It was three years ago last week on Saturday, June 13, 2009, in the main event of UFC 99, the first ever UFC appearance in Germany. At the time though, all eyes were on a month later when the promotion put on its largest event at the time -- UFC 100 -- featuring two of its biggest stars in Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre.
Then 34, Franklin had moved to light heavyweight and was coming off a split decision loss to Dan Henderson earlier in the year. Nearly three years removed from his reign as UFC Middleweight Champion, "Ace" was thrown a big name in Silva at a catchweight of 195 pounds.
Silva was in a tough stretch, fighting the biggest names in the world but continually coming up on the wrong end of the ledger. He had lost two of his first three in the UFC with losses to Chuck Liddell and Quinton Jackson. The decision was made to move down to 185 pounds, but this fight came up before he could get there.
With the two set to headline another overlooked pay-per-view this Saturday, I watched their first fight again with little memory of anything outside the final result. Did the judges get the scoring right? Was the bout as good as people remember? Is there a reason to get excited about UFC 147 after all?
Find out all that and more after the jump. Better yet, open up another window before you do and watch the first fight free and legal, courtesy of UFC.com.
Both guys started the round tentative, but Franklin was striking and moving so Silva couldn't connect with a stationary target. Silva was trying to work a head kick early, but Franklin either checked it or it hit his arm instead. Silva scored a takedown, but fell into Franklin's guard. He broke out and threw some shots from the top but nothing that damaging.
Both men got up and Silva went for a guillotine but slipped off, leaving Franklin on top. Franklin was working the ground and pound, but both men eventually got up. This was a tough round to score as Franklin was better technically and landed more shots, but Silva did get the takedown and was on top for several seconds. I gave this to Franklin 10-9 due to the strikes and his ground and pound late.
Between rounds, Franklin told his corner he thought he broke Silva's nose. Silva did have a small cut on his nose and was breathing heavy, perhaps a nod toward Rogan's comment about the weight.
This was another very tough round to score. Silva started the round trying to establish his kick, but Franklin began to throw more combinations with punches and kicks. Silva ate some shots to get into better positions, but couldn't catch anything flush. Franklin continued to get the better and cleaner of the exchanges with Silva continuing look for and throw the kill shot with nothing on the other end to connect with.
Then the second half of the round really kicked into gear. Franklin put Silva on his rear with a right to the chin, but was back up quick. Franklin used his movement to stay out of trouble, but his reaction time began to slow and Silva took advantage. With just over a minute to go, Silva hurt Franklin with a left/right combination and went into attack mode. Franklin did well to evade but got hit with a few more rights. What hurt Silva was his lack of discipline as he was throwing wildly during the sequence and not setting up punches.
As the round closed, Franklin threw a head kick that connected and hurt Silva but he slipped and couldn't take advantage. The second half of the round was really fun and I gave it to Franklin for his effort over the entire five minutes. However, I could be persuaded to give the nod to Silva for the danger he had Franklin in late.
Both guys were tired. Franklin was still scoring with punches as Silva wasn't moving and was content to throw counterbombs. Franklin was worn but was too quick and stayed out of trouble with his head movement. Silva was still looking for power shots and caught him with a big knee off the clinch. Silva did keep aggressively pushing the action throughout the third round, but he wasn't necessarily connecting flush. Silva unloaded the tank with a minute to go, but Franklin got an important takedown with 35 seconds to go. The end of the round came with the famous clip of Franklin behind Silva throwing left hands while Silva was throwing back elbows. I'm a proponent of 10-10 rounds as sometimes they are truly too tough to call and pulled it here as I just couldn't decide.
On my card, that would give Franklin a 30-28 win. The scores weren't announced but two judges had it 29-28 while another had it 30-27, giving Franklin the unanimous decision. Since then, Silva (34-11-1-1) is 2-1 in sparse action at age 35 while Franklin (28-6-0-1) is 1-2 in equally sparse action at 37.
Check out the fight for free and comment below. Who do you think won the first fight and who will win Saturday?