Griffin won the Light heavyweight title when he out pointed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a controversial unanimous decision in 2008. He went on to lose the title to Rashad Evans less than six months later. From there he suffered a humiliating loss at the hands of Anderson Silva in which he was knocked down three times within the first round before being knocked out with a short lethargic-looking right hand from the Middleweight Champion. Griffin subsequently took over 12 months off before returning to defeat former Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito Ortiz. This will be Griffins first return to fighting since defeating Ortiz and will mark the end of his second consecutive 12 month + absence from the cage. “Ring Rust” is not something any fighter should bring to the table when looking to overcome a durable and wily veteran such as Franklin.
Since his second loss to Anderson Silva, Franklin has gone 2 – 1 in the Light Heavyweight division. This transition has been a relatively successful one especially taking into account that Franklin is a natural middleweight. A win in this fight would go a long way towards establishing either fighter as a legitimate contender at Light Heavyweight.
Griffin will try to keep Franklin on the outside and nullify his opponent’s superior footwork and movement with lowkicks as he did to great effect when he defeated Rampage for the Light Heavyweight title. Expect Franklin to use his superior speed and movement to get inside Griffin’s range and score with short, sharp combinations.
This will not be an easy night for either fighter as they are both known for their heart and tenacity but I feel that the combination his inferior speed and lack of octagon fitness will make it an especially difficult night for the former Light Heavyweight Champion. I predict Franklin to take this one in a closely fought decision.