Every time UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or under perform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into “UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin II”.
4. Who Will Become The First TUF: Brazil Champions?
For the first time, the UFC went international with their hit reality show “The Ultimate Fighter”. The season featured all-Brazilian fighters and was one of the most exciting yet; knockouts, submission and back-and-forth wars were a common theme throughout the 13-episode show. After winning three fights each to advance to the finals, the first Brazilian featherweight and middleweight champions will be crowned as Godofredo “Pepey” de Oliveira takes on Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra and Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira fights Sergio Moraes.
Both match ups are expected to be highly competitive. De Oliveria got to the finals of the show by defeating Johnny Goncalves to move into the house, Wagner Campos to make it to the semi-finals and Marcos Vinicius Borges Pancini to reach the finals. He displayed strong submission skills that he will surely be looking to use to his advantage against his opponent. Bezerra beat Rafael Bueno, Anistavio Gasparzinho and Hugo Wolverine to complete his journey to UFC 147.
In the middleweight finals, Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira is coming off one of the most impressive showings of the season as he easily dominated opponents in his path to the finals, finishing every fight along the way. Ferreira is the favorite coming into the finals, and is one of the fighters on the show with a lot of potential moving forward. His opponent, Moraes, who is fighting face Daniel Sarafian as an injury replacement, will try to make it a rough beginning to Ferreira’s UFC career by pulling off the upset and scoring the huge victory.
On Saturday night, UFC history will be made, as two new “TUF” winners will be crowned. Who will they be?
3. Is Mike Russow Going To Play With Fire And Take Fabricio Werdum To The Ground?
At UFC 147, Mike Russow will face the biggest challenge on his 15-fight MMA career when he travels to the hometown of Fabricio Werdum to fight the Brazilian in his backyard. Russow is undefeated in four UFC bouts to this point, but no opponent he has shared the cage with has the skill level of Werdum. Though his style may be considering slighting boring and somewhat tedious, Russow gets most of his wins by shutting down the offensive attacks of his foes and grinding out hard-fought decision. Russow was a high school and college wrestler so, logically; most of his fights are spent on the ground. With that said, it is probably in Russow’s best interest to stay as far away from Werdum’s ground game as possible. Werdum owns eight career submission wins over top-flight fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko, Mike Kyle and Alistair Overeem and is regarded as one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet.
If Russow takes Werdum to the ground and tries to ride out a decision, he is putting himself at a serious disadvantage and in jeopardy of losing the fight. However, if he can stifle Werdum on the ground and win the fight in that area, he would make a tremendous statement and essentially prove he has what it takes to beat any heavyweight on the UFC roster on the ground. What will Russow’s strategy be in the fight? We will find out when the bell rings.
2. Will Wanderlei Silva Fight For The Last Time?
It has been a well-known fact for some time now that Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva is at the tail end of his career. The former PRIDE champion and mixed marital arts legend is not the same fighter he used to be. Prior to his last fight, a victory over Cung Le at UFC 139, UFC President Dana White has made it public that if Silva lost he would be sat down and “talked” (forced) into retirement; much like fellow MMA legend Chuck Liddell. While the win over Le kept his career going for one more fight, Silva must continue to rack up victories if he wants to keep his career going.
Silva has lost six of his last nine fights – four via brutal knockout. At UFC 147, the Brazilian will face former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin in a rematch of their UFC 99 bout in Cologne, Germany. Franklin’s knockout power is underrated by most and if Silva’s not careful, he could end up face down on the canvas once again. Simply put, if Silva cannot defeat the 37-year-old Franklin, who is 2-3 in his last give fights and has not competed in mixed marital arts in over a year, maybe it truly is time for one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport to call it a career.
1. Why Is This Card On Pay-Per-View?
To be clear, I am one who is rarely negative towards ZUFFA and the decisions they make because, well, they know an infinite amount more about the business side of the sport than myself. However, the fact this card is on pay-per-view is a head scratcher. After the once-rumored main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen was relocated to Las Vegas for UFC 148, a lot of the luster for the card diminished. The new main event was announced as a clash between “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” coaches Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, which is not the most appealing fight to spend $45-$55 dollars on, but the fact there was a ton of history and heat between the two made it an enticing fight to see.
When Belfort withdrew from the event with a broken hand less than a month prior to the event and Rich Franklin stepped in, the little luster remaining on the card diminished. There is only one top-10 fighter is on the card (Fabricio Werdum), and “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” finals feature names that are essentially unknown to North American fans, the ones who are expected to pay for this event. While it is probably a case of already having the date set for PPV and not being able to pull the plug due to contractual obligations, perhaps scaling the price of the PPV down to the quality of the card or moving the card to free TV would have been a smart move.
Personally, I will order the card because it is my job to watch and I haven’t missed a PPV since the first one I saw over 6-years ago, but that doesn’t mean I am happy about it. The UFC is really testing the hand of the PPV consumer on this one. While official numbers are never released because the organization is private company, it would be far from shocking if the event set a new low in terms of PPV buys.
Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com, wrote this article. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @FightCoveMike. Also, be sure to follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.