Rich Franklin went into Wanderlei Silva’s backyard and left the cage with a second victory over the mixed martial arts legend.
A late replacement for the injured Vitor Belfort, Franklin weathered a vintage second-round flurry from “The Axe Murderer” and earned a unanimous decision in the UFC 147 headliner on Saturday at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. All three judges scored it the same: 48-46 for Franklin (29-6, 14-5 UFC), giving the former middleweight champion four of the five rounds.
Franklin controlled much of the 25-minute battle with stout jabs, straight left hands and thudding body kicks. However, the 37-year-old Cincinnati native found himself in the middle of one of Silva’s notorious blitzkriegs in the second round. The former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder leveled Franklin with a straight right hand and then swarmed on him with a savage barrage of ground strikes. Somehow, Franklin kept himself conscious, survived and extended the fight for another round.
“Honestly, I don't remember between the second and fifth rounds,” he said. “I just remember my corner man saying it was the fifth round.”
Silva (34-12-1, 4-7 UFC) paid a heavy price on his end.
“At the end of the second round, I really thought I was going to be able to knock him out,” he said. “I really wanted to, but I’m sorry I wasn't able to. Yes, I did. I think [I punched myself out in round two]. I pushed it a bit too much, but I really wanted to knock him out. I just want to thank the crowd, because I fight for you. My fans are who I do this for.”
At the outset of round three, it became clear Silva had indeed emptied his chamber. He threw nothing of note offensively, allowing Franklin to regain his senses and reclaim control of the match. The American mixed in a trip takedown and some heavy ground-and-pound late in the period in what was his most effective sequence of the fight.
Perhaps sensing he was behind on the scorecards, Silva threw caution to the wind with time winding down in the fifth round. Franklin, in his first appearance in more than a year, dodged his efforts and dropped him to a knee with a clean left hook in the final 10 seconds.
“I was operating on autopilot for a while,” said Franklin, who became the first man ever to defeat Silva twice. “When that kind of stuff happens, you remember bits and pieces. I remember my coach telling me to not get greedy and pick my punches. I thought I did a good job of that in the fifth round. There was so much on this fight for me.”
Ferreira Denies Moraes in Middleweight Final
Cezar Ferreira out-struck three-time Brazilian jiu-jtsu world champion Sergio Moraes en route to a unanimous decision in “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” middleweight final. All three judges ruled in favor of Ferreira (5-2, 1-0 UFC) by 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 counts.
A Belfort protégé, Ferreira kept the heat on the seasoned grappler, delivering a variety of punches and even mixing in a picturesque capoeira kick. Moraes -- who moved into the final when Daniel Sarafian withdrew with an injury -- had his moments on the feet, too, just not enough of them. He dazed Ferreira with a short standing elbow in the second round and followed up with a flurry of straight punches. However, Ferreira answered with shots of his own and reclaimed his foothold in the match. He appeared to seal the victory when he set Moraes (6-2, 0-1 UFC) on the seat of his pants with a straight left hand with less than half a minute remaining in round three.
“I’m very honored. I’m very pleased to be here,” Ferreira said. “This is what I’ve been fighting for and training for.”
Rony ‘Jason’ Outduels Castro in Featherweight Final
Backed by counter right hands and airtight submission defense, Rony Mariano Bezerra took a unanimous verdict from the previously unbeaten Godofredo Castro in “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” featherweight final. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Bezerra (11-3, 1-0 UFC), a Team Nogueira export who has rattled off six consecutive victories.
Castro (8-1, 0-1 UFC) offered little in terms of meaningful offense, resorting to pulling guard on more than one occasion. He did some nice work from the bottom with elbows, but grew less and less effective as the fight deepened. Bezerra, meanwhile, found a home for his right hand and lead left hook, cruising to a decision in a surprisingly tepid 15-minute encounter.
Werdum Batters, Finishes Russow
Two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Fabricio Werdum was flawless against Mike Russow, as he put away the rugged Chicago police officer with first-round punches in a featured heavyweight duel. Russow (15-2, 4-1 UFC) met his end 2:28 into round one, his career-best 11-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Werdum (16-5, 4-2 UFC) tore into Russow with combinations for much of their brief encounter. He floored the 35-year-old with a thudding right uppercut, driving him to all-fours. Werdum then uncorked a series of punches and hammerfists for the finish.
“I’m training a lot of muay Thai,” he said. “I’d just like for all of you to know how happy I’m feeling. It’s really emotional for me to be here. I live in Los Angeles, but to be in Brazil makes me very happy.”
Newcomer Dias Outduels Alcantara
Nova Uniao’s Hacran Dias made a successful Octagon debut, as he captured a unanimous verdict from Iuri Alcantara in a featherweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Dias (21-1-1, 1-0 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
A teammate of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Dias struck for multiple takedowns in all three rounds and neutralized his countryman with mild but effective ground-and-pound. Alcantara (28-4, 2-1 UFC), who entered the cage on a 13-fight winning streak, took a stab at victory in the second round, where he trapped Dias in an armbar. However, the 28-year-old former Shooto champion calmly escaped and resumed his attack from top position.
Dias has won his last nine bouts.
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