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Vets Franklin and Silva Close UFC 99 in Style with Memorable Scrap

COLOGNE, June 13 – It’s said that fighting is a young man’s sport. Sometimes that’s true, but tonight at the Lanxess Arena, veterans Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva proved that they still have some tricks to show the kids, as they engaged in an entertaining three round battle that saw Franklin emerge victorious via unanimous decision in the UFC 99 main event.

By Thomas Gerbasi

COLOGNE, June 13 – It’s said that fighting is a young man’s sport. Sometimes that’s true, but tonight at the Lanxess Arena, veterans Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva proved that they still have some tricks to show the kids, as they engaged in an entertaining three round battle that saw Franklin emerge victorious via unanimous decision in the UFC 99 main event.

Scores for Franklin were 30-27 twice, and 29-28.

“After my last fight in Dublin, it was a disappointment going to a decision,” said Franklin, who fought Silva at a catchweight of 195 pounds. “I didn’t want to go to a decision again, but Wanderlei’s way too strong of a fighter.”

“This is my victory,” said crowd favorite Silva. “I fight for my fans. I wanted to give a show for them. They’re the reason why I’m here today.”

After a touch of gloves to start the action, Franklin and Silva circled, each waiting for the right moment to engage. 90 seconds in, sporadic bursts of action started appearing, with no solid shots being landed. That changed moments later as both scored with strikes, but the first major offensive move of the match saw Silva trip Franklin to the canvas and begin a ground and pound attack as the crowd chanted his name. With under a minute left, the fighters rose and Silva tried to lock in a guillotine choke and pull guard, but Franklin slipped free immediately and when the two rose, the former UFC middleweight champ landed with a hard kick that jarred Silva just before the bell rang.

Franklin tried his luck with kicks early in round two, and when he added in punches to the head, he put Silva off balance as he tried to counter. As the round entered its third minute, Silva began to get a look in his eye like he was about to ignite the match on the war, but Franklin’s effective movement and accurate shots kept ‘The Axe Murderer’ at bay. With 1:15 left, Silva landed an overhand right, his best punch of the fight thus far, and moments later, he landed another, staggering Franklin. The two then traded trips to the canvas as they tried to land haymakers that missed, and the crowd roared in appreciation for the show these two battlers were putting on.

The exchanges were coming more and more frequently in the third round, with the crowd starting to get behind Franklin for his efforts in the Octagon. And soon the packed house erupted as Silva paused from his attack to raise his hands for more cheers. He didn’t need to ask though, as the tension mounted in the final two minutes. Buyoed by the roars, Silva attacked Franklin and landed with some hard shots. Franklin kept his composure, scoring the takedown, but as the two rose and Franklin got his foe’s back, Silva fired off a series of elbows until the bout ended, drawing a deserved standing ovation from the 12,854 in attendance.

With the win, Franklin improves to 27-4 with 1 NC; Silva falls to 32-10-1, 1 NC.

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