If you eat right, exercise correctly, and learn to curb stomp motherfuckers, you too can grow up to be a world famous fighter, just like Wanderlei did.
Everything from Couture/Liddell IV to Cro Cop’s return has been rumored for UFC 99 in Germany. Finally, we have confirmation of at least one big fight in the former home of the Third Reich: Rich ‘Ace’ Franklin against Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva.
Both fighters are each coming off very high profile loses. Franklin lost both the fight and the opportunity to appear as a coach on TUF9 in his January bout with Dan Henderson. Wanderlei lost both the fight and his childhood memories when he was brutally knocked out by Rampage Jackson this past December. One man will stay relevant at the high level of this sport while the other will fade into obscurity. The question is, who has more to lose?
While a defeat at the hands of Rich Franklin could possibly send Wanderlei into retirement, I would venture to say that ‘Ace’ has more at stake. Wanderlei has lost four out of his last five fights, and five out of his past eight. His days as an elite level fighter are likely over, and while it saddens me to admit it, his days as a fighter in general are numbered. Franklin dropped a close decision to a highly regarded fighter in his last bout, which may have ended different if not for the late eye poke, and has bested every other opponent in his career besides pound-for-pound kings Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Franklin has not suffered the types of losses that Wanderlei has as of late and for that reason will suffer a bigger drop from his current spot in the rankings if he loses.
In addition, Wanderlei has something that Franklin does not: an enduring legacy that will remain no matter what the outcome of this fight is. Wanderlei’s reign as the PRIDE middleweight champion will stand the test of time. The utter brutality he exhibited in this sport has been unparalleled. His 18 fights straight without a loss will not be soon forgotten. Victories over highly regarded competition like Henderson, Rampage, Sakuraba, Yoshida, Arona, Fujita, and Jardine display his ability to best quality opponents.
Franklin, on the other hand, has amassed an impressive 24-4 record but done so largely at the expense of opponents he was simply better than. His four losses occured on the four occasions he stepped in the cage with top competition, with the possible exception of his 2007 decision victory over Yushin Okami. While Franklin emerged as a star during the post-TUF boom of mixed martial arts, Wanderlei Silva has no doubt earned a greater legacy, which is further reason why ‘Ace’ has more to lose. He will be fighting to finally get the victory that has always eluded him — one over a big name opponent — as opposed to fading into the sunset as a tough guy who simply couldn’t win when it really mattered.