Fighter's Corner

September 18, 2009 9:19 PM

Previewing UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort

This Saturday night won't be for the faint of heart but rather the enduring fight fans around the country as boxing and MMA go head-to-head with some of the very best their sport has to offer. Two big fights, one night, who will emerge victorious?

The UFC presents its 103rd PPV broadcast with "Franklin vs. Belfort", a catchweight bout at 195 lbs which is now being challenged by Floyd Mayweather who decided to take on the UFC and Juan Marquez on the same night. A dubious task that only the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing would try to shoulder.

Regardless of what ensues, it will be an interesting night but I am here to break down the 103 card so let's get into it.

It seems that with every hole in its pay-per-view scheduling, the UFC turns to middleweight, no light heavyweight, no catchweight, no seriously light heavyweight, ok so maybe a catchweight fighter Rich "Ace" Franklin to fill the void. Since succumbing to a second brutal defeat at the hands of middleweight king Anderson Silva, Franklin has bounced around in weight fighting everywhere from 185 lbs to 205 lbs and in between (195 lbs).

He fought and lost to Dan Henderson in January at 205 lbs, then filled a void for the UFC in June on its Cologne, Germany excursion facing middleweight Wanderlei Silva at a 195 lb catchweight (won decision) which made little sense for either fighter.

So when the UFC faced yet another main event hole for its mid-September card to take place in Dallas, Texas who else did they turn to but Franklin? Originally the plan was for Franklin to do battle with Henderson for a second time at 205 but as this fight made little sense the first time, it made far less for a second time in less than a year to the vast majority of fans so the UFC signed Vitor Belfort when Affliction folded up shop and immediately made the swap.

Although intriguing as a pure fight goes, the Franklin/Belfort main event fight at 195 lbs does little to inspire interest in divisional ramifications. When the fight is over, win or lose both fighters are going their separate ways -- Franklin back to light heavyweight's weight class of 205 lbs (barring a sudden miracle creation of a 195 lb weight class by the UFC) and Belfort to middleweight's 185 lbs.

Both fighters are no doubt talented and top contenders, but fighting outside of their weight classes doesn't really say much about where they are in their division so ramifications of a win or loss are hard to judge.

At the end of the day though, fans want to see great fights and this could certainly be one. However, for a fighter it can be rather difficult to continually wage battles that do little to further one's career except in the bank account. Perhaps Franklin at his age has decided it's best for him to fight the big money fights than to chase a belt that he most likely is unable to attain?

The 103 fight card has mostly flown under the radar, but it is much more solid in this writer's opinion than that of the two previous (102 and 101).

A heavyweight tilt between Junior Dos Santos (8-1), 25, and Mirko "Cro Cop" (25-6-2), 35, is getting second billing but two welterweight showdowns between Martin Kampmann (15-2) Paul "Semtex" Daley (21-8-2) and Josh Koscheck (14-4) versus Frank Trigg (19-6) look appetizing as well. Then there is a very interesting lightweight match between Hermes Franca (20-7) and Tyson Griffin (13-2).

The event will also mark the first time the UFC will air a portion of its preliminary pay-per-view fights on free television courtesy of Spike TV. Two fights are guaranteed to air in the 6 - 7 pm time slot: Drew McFedries vs. Tomasz Drwal (185 lbs) and Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller (155 lbs).

Picks: I like Koscheck's youth and wrestling prowess to help him prevail over Trigg in an unanimous decision; Franca's power to be too much for Griffin's solid but non-lethal attack to endure (3rd rd TKO); Kampmann to prove to be too experienced for the replacement Daley (2nd rd submission); Dos Santos to prove to be the real deal in brutal KO fashion over an over-the-hill "Cro Cop" who will be sent packing by Monday; and Vitor Belfort to stun many a Rich Franklin fan by storming the former middleweight champ with a barrage of punches, knees and elbows in the 3rd and final round to score a TKO stoppage.

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