Everyone loves a rematch!
In December 2003, Fighters.com’s third-ranked light heavyweight “Dragon” Lyoto Machida (13-0) TKO’d second-ranked middleweight “Ace” Rich Franklin (23-3), then fighting at 205-pounds, in the second round.
But, the match-up was on the undercard of a Japanese event before Franklin conquered “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock (26-13-2) on the original TUF finale, propelling “Ace” to North American stardom, and Machida conquered “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-6-1) last Saturday, continuing his impressive UFC run.
Though the fight is available on the Internet, few North Americans have seen it.
Now, both fighters are lingering directionless in their respective divisions.
Franklin, it seems, can beat-up anyone at 185-pounds except for top-ranked UFC champ “Spider” Anderson Silva (21-4), to whom he’s succumbed twice already.
Machida has been relatively unchallenged in victories over Ortiz, seventh-ranked light heavyweight “African Assassin” Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (5-2), and Kazuhiro Nakamura (11-8), but his unengaging, paced style puts him at the back of the line of UFC 205-pound contenders, behind more exciting fighters “Iceman” Chuck Liddell (21-5) and, now, probably “Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva (32-8-1).
A rematch with Machida is interesting for several reasons.
First, it solves the problem of what to do with each fighter, in the short-term anyway.
Also, there’s a bit of drama built-in as a rematch from a mysterious fight in Japan many years prior. Redemption always sells!
Finally, it’s a good fight. Both fighters have improved tremendously since 2003.
Always in-shape Franklin will push the pace and action versus Machida. Unlike Ortiz, Franklin doesn’t have to stalk the “Dragon” for a takedown or wait for him to plant to land the big punch like Soko’. Franklin will run Machida down and touch him with a diverse stand-up game he can launch while moving.
On the ground, Franklin showed how slick he is by escaping a Lutter armbar at UFC 83 and would challenge Machida with a relentless G’n'P.
Machida needs an exciting fight to earn a title shot. Franklin doesn’t fight boring fights, even if it’s in his better interest to pace himself (as in his second loss to Silva).
For Franklin, Machida serves as a legitimate and awkward striker. It must be frustrating for Frankin that his live-fire 185-pound options are all grapplers when he needs fight experience versus strikers to have a chance of winning the inevitable third title fight with Silva.
Machida mimics Silva at least in the awkward angles he strikes from and is strong in the clinch. Machida is also tricky on the ground, with slick submissions and powerful wrestling.
Make this fight! It sells, has meaningful storyline, and is a competitive match-up.
Want to play matchmaker? Send me your match-ups and 100 words why it’s a good fight to make. Include your name, city, and country and e-mail email@example.com. I’ll publish some of them next Monday morning.