Former UFC Light Heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin used his size advantage to hack out a unanimous victory over former UFC Middleweight champ Rich Franklin in their light heavyweight match on Saturday at UFC 126: Silva vs Belfort. All judges scored it 29-28 in favor of Griffin whose record has improved to 1805 overall. Franklin dropped to 28-6, going 3-3 as a light heavyweight.
Griffin weighed in at the light heavyweight limit of 205 pounds while Franklin came in at 203 pounds. Both crowd favorites were hoping that a win could put them in position to challenge current UFC Light Heavyweight champ Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua but it was earlier announced that Jon Jones was replacing an injured Rashad Evans for the title.
The first round clearly belonged to Griffin who took Franklin down and landed some strikes on the ground. Franklin had difficulty from the bottom position with Griffin applying pressure and using his size and natural weight advantage. By the end of the round, it was obvious that the scores went in favor of Griffin, 10-9.
Franklin did better in the second round, absorbing another takedown by Griffin but somehow finding a way out. Both fighters landed some crisp shots but nothing significant to stagger either fighter. Griffin had better control of the round with the takedown and could have won on most judges’ scorecard, 10-9.
The third round went back and forth as both fan favorites made last ditch efforts for a takedown. The last round was the closest that it could have gone either way.
By the end of the bout, Griffin still looked fresh and was given the unanimous decision victory. This is his first match after a 14-month hiatus due to a shoulder injury. Franklin also sustained an arm injury in June last year before knocking out UFC legend Chuck Liddell at UFC 115.