In the lead-up to their light heavyweight fight at UFC 126, Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin talked about how they are very similar fighters with similar styles, abilities and heart.
All true, but on fight night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, it was all Griffin. The former light heavyweight champion controlled the fight and dictated the pace the entire way en route to a unanimous decision over Franklin, a former middleweight champion. All three judges scored it 29-28.
So much for being nervous about not fighting for 14 months.
"It's hard to come back after a year without going against people in game speed," Griffin said.
Griffin controlled the first round with a takedown and then a smothering of Franklin. Griffin controlled Franklin's body and was active on the ground with punches while Franklin held guard and avoid significant damage. But he never had the opportunity to fight from his back, it was all defense.
In the second round, with 3:28 left, Griffin got another takedown of Franklin. A minute later, Franklin (28-6) was back on his feet and standing in the center of the octagon. A left hook from Griffin with about 100 seconds left wobbled Franklin but there was no follow-up.
Griffin (18-6) fought mostly conservatively in the third round but got a takedown with about 80 seconds left. The two fighters tussled a bit, but no damage was done.