The thudding nature of UFC 147

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
2:25
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Rich FranklinJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesRich Franklin has the not-so-enviable task of fighting Wanderlei Silva in Brazil.

If we’re talking volume alone, this is the biggest fight weekend that ever labored so hard to raise an eyebrow.

And out of all the MMA going on this weekend -- Fedor Emelianenko versus Pedro Rizzo in St. Petersburg (good luck finding a feed) going on today, UFC on FX 4/the kick-off of Bellator season 7 on Friday -- only one card specifically requires your money. That would be UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This is a pay-per-view card for North Americans, one of the "big numericals" we tend to revere on faith.

Only, this is one that, if the UFC were still using titles, should be called UFC 147: Twilight of the Idols.

Let’s face it -- only diehards and incorrigibles are going to purchase UFC 147, and those who are both (like the media). The main event is two guys who are as long out of contention as they are in the tooth. Rich Franklin against Wanderlei Silva: former champions with the wrong kind of intrigue in 2012. For the 37-year-old Franklin it’s “what’s left?” For the 34-year-old Silva, it’s something more dire. It’s “is he a knockout away from MMA extinction?”

If Silva’s chinny, the MMA world will be talking about it on Monday like a hunch finally realized. How’s that for fun -- we could be 48 hours away from cries of Wandy’s overdue retirement, both from fans and Dana White.

That’s not exactly the high point of drama and anticipation that you want from a PPV headliner.

Bottom line is, UFC 147 is a salvaged wreck that was once so gloriously thought to be Chael Sonnen against Anderson Silva II. It went from the most ambitious in design to the most forgettable on paper. UFC 147 was supposed to be held in an attendance-shattering, security-nightmare of a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo. Or, if not there, then in Rio at Joao Havelange Stadium with 60,000 partisans. All of that was a lot of fun to contemplate.

Now it’s being held inland at the Mineirinho Gymnasium, which sounds like a place you might go to attend a pep rally.

It morphed from Sonnen/Silva to Vitor Belfort against Silva, which would have still been a treat for Brazil until Belfort went down. Now it’s a TUF Brazil finale, with Mike Russow against Fabricio Werdum the second strongest beam in the scaffolding. And of course there’s Franklin, who hasn’t fought in 16 months and hasn’t fought well in two years, back when he used his only available hand -- his non-broken right -- to down Chuck Liddell.

And if there’s a glint at all to this, we’ve finally gotten around to it. Franklin felt gutted sending Liddell off into the twilight the way he did at UFC 115. He didn’t want to be the one to put the punctuation on Liddell’s career, but he did it anyway. Now he might be on the verge of doing that to a second early legend. Maybe Franklin is more than a company man. Maybe he’s the UFC’s hatchet man, where storied careers go to get finalized. Maybe he’s a one-man intervention, designed to punch sense into people.

Hey, for this one, we have to extrapolate our storylines.

Or just hope for an epic out-and-out brawl that warrants $50, one of those cards that pans out to be an out-of-the-blue fantastic. You know the ones -- the cards where Dana White reminds everyone afterward that only fools criticize what always looked like ore just under the surface.

Either way, none of this takes away from the free fights on FX on Friday for those who have the channel. Gray Maynard versus Clay Guida -- two guys near the top of their division and both in their prime -- is a great fight to get for free. If that’s not enough, there’s Bellator and Fedor, even if it’s just highlights and recaps from Russia or video streams from the nosebleeds.

There’s plenty of action this weekend. Some of it is free, some of it is hard to find, and some of it requires your disposable income.

And UFC 147 can't help itself from asking -- just how disposable is your income?

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