February 06, 2011
Forrest Griffin (18-6) returned from a 15-month layoff with a unanimous decision win over Rich Franklin (28-6). Griffin won the bout 29-28 on all three judges' scorecards.
Griffin struck first, taking Franklin down early in the first round, and then spent much of the round controlling Franklin while landing several punches and elbows. The former middleweight Franklin couldn't find a way out from underneath Griffin, a fighter who is a natural light heavyweight.
In the second round, Griffin got another takedown by dragging Franklin down from behind. Griffin tried to get a body lock on, but Franklin was able to work away and return to his feet. Griffin controlled the stand-up, using kicks and strikes to control Franklin.
Griffin, still fresh in the third round, continued to land kicks and strikes. He notched a takedown with a minute left in round, which was then reversed by Franklin. The two battled for position, both trying to get the other down, until Griffin broke free from Franklin's grip.
Even Griffin realized the bout was close, and even gestured to Franklin that the fight was close as the judges' decision was announced. He was honest after the fight, admitting that not everything going up to the fight was perfect.
"Rusty. Rusty," Griffin said when asked how it felt to be fighting again. "It's great to be back, to be honest. Camp didn't go right, but it's good to be back."
Both of the former champions have had long layoffs. Griffin last fought in November of 2009, beating Tito Ortiz at UFC 106 while Franklin last fought in June, knocking out Chuck Liddell at UFC 115. Franklin broke his arm in that bout.
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