UFC 93 featured a long anticipated fight between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson. For quite a while I had wished for this fight, but in the end the result ended up anticlimactic compared to the anticipation and hype. Here’s why…
The winner of this matchup would be invariably forced to coach the following season of the Ultimate Fighter. Rich made it abundantly clear that he did not want to endure this a second time. Henderson, on the other hand, seemed to relish the opportunity. In addition, the impending coach of the Ultimate Fighter would end up fighting against Michael Bisping at 185 pounds. This is the weight class that Rich just left (as per nudging from the UFC) after getting dismantled twice by Anderson Silva. Also, the filming of the Ultimate Fighter would take several months and this would mean that the coach would not fight until the end of the season. My feeling is that Rich wants to stay at 205 pounds, does not want to coach on the Ultimate Fighter and would not favor a long layoff before fighting again.
The conclusion — Rich Franklin had nothing to gain by winning the fight against Dan Henderson.
The result of the fight was a decision victory by Dan Henderson which I agreed with wholeheartedly. Rich lacked any killer instinct and did not seem himself. He had previously mentioned his confidence in the clinch yet he offered very little offense in this position. I counted one flailing knee and did not see any type of ongoing forward movement or aggression until the third round when Franklin was clearly down by two rounds. There was no sense of urgency on Rich’s part, it seemed, in round 3 either.
While I’m not saying for sure that Rich threw the fight, I cannot ignore it as a possibility. The complete lack of incentive to win and the uncharacteristic performance definitely garner some suspicion. I suppose only Rich will truly know what happened.
As an afterthought, I was watching this event with a friend who is relatively new to viewing MMA and I must say that I felt embarrassed by the Coleman vs Rua fight. I have to give Coleman credit for competing at his age and acknowledge his impressive physique, but Rua has no excuse. Rua looked terrible against Forrest Griffin and looked just as bad against Coleman. I even thought the stoppage was questionable. While Coleman definitely looked spent, both fighters looked exhausted since the first round! Had Coleman looked incapacitated all of a sudden, I could justify the stoppage, but Coleman looked gassed from early on in the fight and so did Rua. This one probably should have gone to the judges. Just my opinion.