Commentary

Wanderlei officially on his last legs

Originally Published: June 11, 2012
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Sorry to say, in the fight game age is often more than just a number.

Rich Franklin, 37, bested Wanderlei Silva, 35, Saturday night during the maligned main event for UFC 147 -- a card that was far more meaningful for the UFC in a burgeoning Brazilian fight market than back home in the States, where fans and media kvetched about being asked to drop $55 to watch the shindig.

While Franklin looked all right after taking the fight on short notice following an extended layoff, Silva's performance simply reaffirmed that he doesn't have what he once did. Among the best action fighters of all time, the worst thing one can say about Silva is that he literally could not muster an attack. Save a wild sequence in Round 2, Silva was forced to deal with Franklin moving and pecking to a proper four-rounds-to-one decision.

In the end, fans who skipped out on this card (anecdotally, many did) shouldn't feel as if they missed out, particularly as the top of the bill is concerned.

Where this leaves Silva is unclear. He'll want to fight again because that's who he is. The UFC may choose to keep him around considering its emphasis on building up its Brazil business. Fine, he can make some cash; he deserves every penny he can get. But will fans continue to want to watch him fight? It must be painful for his longtime followers to watch this version of Silva. Not that we're talking about a recent trend. The former Pride light heavyweight champion hasn't been the same since Mirko Filipovic and Dan Henderson starched him in back-to-back fights more than five years ago.

It's been so long since "The Axe Murderer" resembled his nom de guerre, one has to wonder if his hard-earned legacy will suffer irreparably because of fights like the one he put on Saturday. I hope not.

I'll always choose to remember the Pride-era Silva, in part because I saw him compete in person numerous times and he was a sight to behold. That's why this antique version is so hard to watch.

Franklin, meanwhile, will have his chance at making another run. I doubt he capitalizes, but at least he resembles a capable mixed martial artist. Granted, he looked good against men of his age range who can't bring it anymore, but at least "Ace" moves well, fights with technique and is always prepared.

One last point on this fight: The next time someone mentions that wacky idea for an MMA senior division, point to Franklin-Silva, say no thanks, and walk away.

As it was, the weekend offered plenty of MMA action, including two UFC cards. Here's how fighters fared from Atlantic City to Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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