Pros Picks: Franklin vs. Silva

By Mike Sloan Jun 12, 2009
The ultimate crossroads bout will take place inside the Octagon when former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Wanderlei Silva meets former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin in the UFC 99 main event this Saturday at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany.

Who will prevail? Sherdog.com recently touched base with dozens of professional MMA trainers and fighters and found out where they stood on this catchweight bout.

Zac George: First off, Franklin will show up with one black eye and leave with two. It will be a competitive tussle, with Silva scoring with hooks and some clinch work and Franklin adding up points with takedowns and ground-and-pound. It will look like Leatherface fought the Elephant Man when Rich gets the nod.

Roland Sarria: Silva by knockout.

Thales Leites: I think anything can happen. These two fighters are very good and complete, but if I had to bet, I would bet on a Wanderlei win by knockout.

Marvin Eastman: Silva [will] win by KO in the third round.

Scott Bieri: Wanderlei is on the bubble. Franklin is 0-3 versus Brazilians. Wanderlei Silva by murder, no axe necessary.

Thiago Tavares: I think that if Wanderlei enters the fight with his aggressiveness, then he’ll knock out Rich, I believe, in the first round. Rich will not endure Wanderlei’s pressure for long.

Juanito Ibarra: Silva [by] KO.

Rich Clementi: I think Wanderlei has to sit down on his punches too much. I think Rich will work good footwork and give him a lot of trouble with movement. Rich wins via split decision.

Jeff Monson: Franklin by decision.

Thiago Goncalves: I think Wanderlei wins by knockout.

Nick Thompson: Wanderlei keeps coming forward and finds Rich’s chin.

Cung Le: Wanderlei Silva by decision.

Andre Pederneiras: Regardless of who he faces, I will always bet on Wanderlei. He is a guy who always goes straight up, is very aggressive and goes for the finish. Sure, it can sometimes cost a victory, but he always seeks the knockout. Even if he fights at heavyweight, I’ll bet on him.

Jason Lambert: Rich Franklin by TKO.

Gabe Ruediger: Tough match to pick. I think Rich has a little more precision in his striking, but Wand has way more aggression -- interesting matchup, actually. I have a feeling that there might be some ground work included in this one, though. When it’s all said and done, I actually don’t know.

Junior dos Santos: I think it will be a tough fight. Both Wanderlei and Franklin are very good standing. I think the fight will develop in that area, and it may end in a knockout. It will be a very good fight, and I hope Wanderlei wins.

Elvis Sinosic: This is an interesting matchup. Rich is a refined striker and has good Brazilian jiu-jitsu and takedown defense. Silva has aggression and is not afraid to wade in. He has good BJJ, as well. With Rich being a southpaw, it could give Silva problems if Rich can control the range. Saying that, if Silva can wade in and overwhelm Rich, he can stop him, as well. It all comes down to who can control the range. I can see the match hitting the ground at times, but I don’t think that is where the match will be decided. Wanderlei has to be the favorite due to his years of domination in Pride, though Rich was a great UFC champion until he ran into the other Silva. Both have fought Henderson, with Rich coming out looking better in comparative results. Another difference is Rich wants to move up in weight and Silva wants to move down. I think Rich will come in and control this match to win the decision.

Pedro Rizzo: I think Wanderlei wins by knockout. He is more aggressive and more explosive than Franklin. He has heavy hands, comes in off a defeat, and I think he will come very thirsty for a victory.

James Zikic: I think Rich will take this one. It’s the first time Wanderlei is cutting weight, and it’s hard to know how much the KO loss to Quinton [Jackson] has taken out of him. I feel that Rich is the fresher fighter and will probably win by late stoppage or points, but, saying that, he could get bombed out by Wanderlei’s aggressive punching and kneeing.

James Thompson: Would love to see Wand win this one, but [my] head is saying Rich. I think he is a more well-rounded fighter, and Wand does not have the same firepower as he used to. I think Rich will take a decision.

Vitor Ribeiro: I think Wanderlei wins. I really enjoyed the statements in which he said that he’s doing calligraphy. I think that, with that sharp hand, there’s no chance for anyone -- Wanderlei by knockout in the second round.

Stephane Vigneault: I see Rich TKO-ing Wanderlei. I don’t think Wanderlei is the same fighter than before.

Jamie Varner: I have Silva by KO, but it will be a tough fight.

Tom Gavrilos: Lately, people are questioning what Wanderlei has left and even his chin. I say never pick against “The Axe Murderer.” Good matchup -- Silva by TKO.

Cristiano Marcello: I think this fight can take some different paths. Franklin could respect Wanderlei too much, to the point that it becomes an easy fight, or he could not show so much respect. Then Wanderlei would have a tougher way to win. I know something for sure. The fight will not go to a judges’ decision.

Stav Economou: It doesn’t matter what Wanderlei has left in the tank; he will always be a serious threat to any and every fighter he faces. I like Rich Franklin, but I see Wanderlei TKO-ing him late in the first round or at some point in the second.

Bill Mesi: Silva has a huge fault; he always puts his right hand in his jockstrap when he throws his jab out. This will be met with a vicious straight left by the southpaw Franklin. Franklin [by] TKO in the first -- not early, like when Jackson lit him up, but early enough.

Roan Carneiro: Wanderlei wins by knockout or unanimous decision. I think Wanderlei has more power in the hands than Rich, and he will be stronger in this category.

Ben Saunders: This fight is a great bout between two former champions. I believe it’s a fight that could have a different winner every time they fought. At the end of the day, Silva has inspired me in my career a lot, so I am gunning for him. He is just vicious. I also would love to see him fight Anderson Silva, which a win over Franklin potentially sets up.

Robin Black: How can you not cheer for Wanderlei? He’s a lovable, reckless killing machine, but it’s debatable whether or not he’s still at the top, having lost four of his last five. It would be awesome to see him destroy Franklin like he destroyed so many in the Pride days, but, more likely, we’re going to see Franklin batter “The Axe Murderer’s” body with kicks and out-skill him to a decision win.

Charlie Valencia: This is a tough one. If Silva makes it a scrap, then he should come out on top.

Pete Sell: Franklin by KO in the second. I heard he was down training with Anderson. Wanderlei used to be teammates with him, so that isn’t good news for Wanderlei.

Luigi Fioravanti: Both are exciting fighters. Hard one to call.

Kit Cope: Wanderlei is going to give Rich the old turndown service. Rich can’t match Wandy’s intensity. The key to Silva’s victory, however, is the fact that he has diversified his training with top coaches and is truly trying to evolve as a fighter.

Din Thomas: I’m going with Rich. This is the Silva that he can beat.

Jorge Santiago: Wanderlei by TKO in the second round.

Travis Wiuff: I am going with Rich by decision.

Ronnys Torres: As a Brazilian, I hope for Wanderlei to win. He got a lot of heart; he’s a warrior, man, although he’s not doing very well in the UFC. This fight is very important for him. It will be a great fight, but much will depend on how he will feel in this new weight category. My guess is Wanderlei winning by knockout in the second round.

Erik Paulson: Does Wand have a game plan to beat Rich, who fights southpaw but is really standard? Rich is taller than Wand and has extensively researched counters to the Thai plum, which is Wand’s bread and butter. It’ll be super interesting to see what Wand’s game plan will be. I’m taking Rich as the successor by three-round decision.

Pros that picked Franklin: 14
Pros that picked Silva: 20
Pros that could not decide: 5

Gleidson Venga contributed to this report.
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