The Ultimate Fighting Championship made their debut in China Saturday at Cotai Arena in Macao as former UFC middleweight champ Rich Franklin squared off with action film star and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le in the UFC Macao (UFC on Fuel TV 6) main event.
Most pundits, including the oddsmakers, had Le as a pretty heavy underdog coming into the bout. In addition to having a major movie release only a couple weeks prior to the event, Le made it public he was not a 100 percent coming into the bout due to a foot injury.
Franklin came out strong early in round one finding success with combinations and leg kicks. Le, on the other hand, remained flat-footed and was looking to counter. And counter he did by timing one of Franklin’s leg kicks with a perfectly placed right hand to the chin, snapping Franklin’s neck in that perfect fashion that can only result in one thing.
Franklin immediately toppled face first to the canvas as the stunned crowd cheered and Le celebrated with his traditional round-off to back handspring. I myself had predicted Franklin to win, him having been in multiple five-round bouts and this being Le’s first; not to mention the enormous Octagon experience advantage Franklin held over Le.
In the end though, all that mattered was a perfectly timed counter and the 40-year-old Le picked up his second straight win inside the UFC Octagon and the biggest win of his career. There are already mumblings about where this puts him in the mix and a potential future fight with 185-pound champ Anderson Silva. That could be a fun fight, but let’s not get crazy, this is only Le’s second UFC win.
As far as where Franklin goes from here, his career has literally been up-and-down since 2009. He said after the bout he would have to go home regroup and think about what’s next. But I don’t think anyone could blame him if he started thinking about the next chapter of his life. He had talked about making another run at the belt, but Le squashed those plans with a quickness.
Also keep in mind five of Franklin’s seven losses have come via knockout. Let’s face it, he has suffered some of the more brutal knockouts in UFC history — the two losses to Anderson Silva immediately come to mind, but this one I think was the worst of all. At some point, you have to start considering the long-term effects.
In the only other finish of the night, Thiago Silva rallied in the third round to stop Stanislav Nedkov with an arm triangle choke submission. Nedkov took the first and second rounds, even dropping Silva with a big right hand at one point.
The big punches of Nedkov came at a cost though, as he appeared completely gassed in the third. Silva took advantage of this, landing a couple big punches that caused Nedkov to turn his back, Silva then took him to the ground and easily sunk in the fight-ending choke just 1:45 into the final frame.
The complete results for UFC Macao are as follows:
- Cung Le def. Rich Franklin by KO (punch) Rd 1 (2:17)
- Thiago Silva def. Stanislav Nedkov by submission (arm triangle choke) Rd 3 (1:45)
- Dong-Hyun Kim def. Paulo Thiago by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
- Takanori Gomi def. Mac Danzig by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Jon Tuck def. Tiequan Zhang by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Takeya Mizugaki def. Jeff Hougland by Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alex Caceres def. Montonoby Tezuka by Split Decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)
- John Lineker def. Yasuhiro Urushitani by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
- Riki Fukuda def. Tom DeBlass by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)