Yep, that’s right. None other than former middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin will be the man to fill in for Vitor Belfort against Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 147. The fight will be contested at a catchweight of 190 pounds. Sound familiar? That might be because these two met at UFC 99 back in June of 2009 at a catchweight of just five pounds heavier (a.k.a Rumbleweight, Franklinweight, Moneyweight, or 195 lbs.). The fight was an action packed affair that saw “Ace” emerge victorious by way of unanimous decision.
As you may recall, Franklin was originally expected to take on Cung Le at UFC 148, who has now been left without an opponent. After Vitor was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Silva due to a broken hand, however, everyone from Alan Belcher, who also injured himself in the meantime, to Michael Bisping, who Wanderlei already defeated by UD in his UFC middleweight debut back at UFC 110, were being pegged as potential opponents, even in light of Bisping/Boetsch already being announced.
Though this matchup will more than likely make for an exciting fight (being that their first scrap took home FOTN honors), we may be looking at the possibility of UFC 147 being demoted from a pay-per-view to a free card at this point. And here’s why.
Sign #1: The card, or lack thereof
First, let’s take a look at the card as it stands. Which is to say, barely. The only announced matchups are as follows.
Aside from a pair of fights that will determine the TUF: Brazil winners, we have a couple of fights featuring names that only the hardcore fans will even recognize *cough* Milton Vieira *cough* and a likely co-headliner of Werdum vs. Russow. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. Although Werdum looked nothing short of outstanding his last time around, the same can not be said for Russow. Yes, the kid is on a ridiculous 11-fight win streak, including four straight in the UFC, but in terms of drawing power, he is still very low on the heavyweight totem pole. Plus, his previous victories over anyone not named Todd Duffee were boring as shit. And besides, even the finales of American TUF seasons are relegated to free cards. Now that UFC 147 lacks even the drawing power of its original coaches, we see no reason why the UFC would think this card is worthy of a PPV buy.
Look, we love Wandy and Ace. In fact, this match, as with their first, is one of those fights where we don’t want to see either guy lose, unless it’s by way of some insane windmill-style knockout, of course. But let’s be real here, nothing short of a Kurt Russell miracle would have to happen for either of these guys to come anywhere close to the middleweight belt. Even though this fight is at catchweight, 185 is where both men will be calling their home for the time being, and probably until they call it quits.
Anderson Silva gave Franklin a permanent black eye and enough nightmares to make a WW2 vet stir in his sleep in their pair of fights, and Wanderlei only delayed a forced retirement by beating Cung Le last November. To think that either of these guys are the next threat to Anderson is not only ludicrous, it’s downright laughable. Franklin most recently dropped a UD to Forrest Griffin at UFC 126, and considering how FoGriff fared against Anderson, we can use the power of MMA math to determine that Silva might just beat Franklin to death were they to meet again. This is not meant as a knock on either man’s career, but rather an accurate assessment of why no one will be forking over 50 dollars for a card headlined by such a matchup.
Sign #3 – It’s in a foreign country
OK, so this one’s a bit of a stretch, but it seems that even when a card falls apart in the good old US of A, the UFC seems reluctant to admit defeat and just give away a card to the people. On the other hand, can you remember the last time a card that aired in London wasn’t free? Neither can we. As of now, UFC 147 is scheduled to go down at the Estádio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and has already switched venues to make way for that pesky UN. All we’re saying is: mediocre card + foreign country = Fight Night in the making.
We haven’t forgotten your promise, DW. Now throw a couple more decent fights on this card and we can all forget the absolute turd that was Silva vs. Maia. Chop-chop.
So who’s stoked enough to shell out their hard earned cash on this one? To those of you who answered that last question with an emphatic “ME!”, can we borrow fifty bucks?