Franklin Outlasts Okami to Secure Title Shot at UFC 72; Griffin Victorious in Must-Win Bout

Rich Franklin had to beat Yushin Okami. Forrest Griffin had to defeat Hector Ramirez.

A loss for either of them would have sent their careers into a downward spiral, away from title contention and into desperation mode. However both Franklin and Griffin can sleep well tonight thanks to the judges unanimously seeing things their way in their respective fights earlier today.

Franklin came into the fight as a slight favorite over Okami, who would be participating in his first ever main event. The bout was being billed as a clash of styles - Franklin was superior on the feet; Okami on the ground. The fight took place in both places but ended with Franklin earning an unanimous decision over Okami.

The fight wasn’t very entertaining during the first two rounds. Franklin was hesitant to engage and try out Okami’s strength while Okami stood back and looked to counter with shots as he usually does in the majority of his fights. Franklin did enough however to have the judges hand him the nod in the first two rounds.

The third round was a different story though. Okami was able to sweep Franklin’s feet and slam him hard to the mat, forcing Franklin on his back for the first time in his UFC career at least.

“I knew to keep my position and press him along the fence that I’d be ok,” Franklin said. “But he did get me with that trip, a move he’s known for, and he got me down. It was a stupid move on my part and he capitalized. As far as the kimura goes, it was deep but I was able to get out of it and finish the fight.”

Franklin (22-2) survived a lethal kimura attempt and went on to pound Okami (20-4) until the final horn sounded. The win was Franklin’s second in as many fights and also secured Franklin a shot at the middleweight title against the winner of Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt at UFC 73. For Okami, it was back to the drawing board after a solid six fight winning streak was ended.

While the main event was a clash of styles, Griffin’s fight against Hector Ramirez was the matching up of two fighters that love to throw leather. A lot of punches were thrown in this fight but it was Griffin who turned out to be the one unleashing most of the flurries.

Ramirez nearly stole the first round by taking Griffin to the ground and controlling him until Griffin was able to work his way back up to his feet and pick apart Ramirez. From that point forward, it was all Griffin. He went on to take the final two rounds by sticking and moving.

Every time that Ramirez charged forward with shots, Griffin (14-4) would intelligently move away and frustrate Ramirez (6-3-1) with his speed. Ramirez was visibly limping by the end of the third round as a result of an assault of leg kicks by Griffin throughout the fight.

“Hey, I got knocked out the last time I was in this cage and I didn’t want to have that happen again,” said Griffin. “I know it’s hard to fight someone when they are running away.”

Undercard Fights

Jason MacDonald overcame a brutal first round to defeat Rory Singer in the second round of their contest. MacDonald (19-8) go into the mount position on top of Singer (11-7) and proceeded to rain down a barrage of punches that forced referee Yves Lavigne to stop the bout half way through the round because Singer was no longer able to intelligently defend himself nor get out of that position.

Tyson Griffin got the nod over Clay Guida in a controversial split decision in a fight that many thought Guida won. The bout was an instant fight of the year canidate as both left everything they had inside the octagon during a battle that showcased just about every aspect of the sport of MMA.

Guida (21-8) seemed to have the fight in hand after a solid effort in the third round but the judges ended up awarding the fight to Griffin (9-1). The official scores were 29-28, 29-28 for Griffin and 29-28 for Guida.

Ed Herman salvaged his career in the UFC at least for the time being with a submission victory over Scott Smith. Herman (13-5) dominated the fight from the get-go, taking Smith (11-4) to the ground within seconds of the fight starting. From there Herman unleashed a ground and pound assault that left Smith with a busted nose when everything was said and done.

Herman finished the fight midway through the second round when he secured a rear naked choke and quickly forced Smith to tap out.

Preliminary Fights

Marcus Davis (12-3) knocked out Jason Tan (4-2) just over a minute into the first round of their fight. The barrage of punches left Tan so out of it that he held onto Davis’ leg for a few moments after the fight was already over. During a post-fight interview, Tan told the media that he didn’t remember anything after getting put to sleep.

Eddie Sanchez (7-1) overcame a punishing first round to stop Colin Robinson (8-3) by TKO in the second round of the second fight of the night. Dustin Hazelett (9-3) was also victorious, scoring a rare submission victory by D’Arce choke over Northern Ireland’s Stevie Lynch (4-1) in the first round.

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