Franklin-Okami: Keys to victory

Kevin Iole

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Rich Franklin has been one of the UFC’s most dominant fighters, but needs a win Saturday over Yushin Okami at Odyssey Arena to get another shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Here’s what he’ll need to do to get it and here’s how Okami can pull the upset:

Franklin's keys
Okami's keys
1. Land the left. Franklin is a powerful striker with one-punch knockout power. He needs to throw his straight left early and give Okami second thoughts about shooting in for a takedown. 1. Get to the ground. Okami is one of the best in the division at the ground and pound. He needs to get Franklin down and deliver some punishment.

2. Defend the takedown. Okami is a Greco-Roman wrestler who will be trying to find ways to get Franklin off his feet. Franklin's sprawl will be key to his performance. 2. Cut off the ring. Franklin may try to circle and find a way to land his left. Okami should try to cut off the ring so he’ll have Franklin in a confined area where it will be easier to get him down.

3. Control the distance. By keeping Okami outside, Franklin will be able to dictate the terms of the fight and negate Okami’s strength. 3. Get off first. Okami would be wise not to wait for Franklin to throw first. If he could get off first and force Franklin to counter, he’d negate some of Franklin’s power.

4. Throw the uppercut. When the fighters are inside, Franklin needs to fire an uppercut, because Okami is open for the shot. It also will enable Franklin to prevent takedowns. 4. Circle to his left. To avoid Franklin's punching power, Okami ought to move to his left and away from Franklin's power hand.

Prediction: Franklin began camp training for Martin Kampmann, a Muay Thai boxing specialist. He ended it preparing for Okami, a superb wrestler. But Franklin is good enough to make the change. Take Franklin by unanimous decision.

Rating the fighters

Comparison of Rich Franklin and Yushin Okami on a rating of 1 to 10 in several categories:

Punching power 8 6 Okami isn’t great standing up.
Wrestling 6 9 Franklin is in trouble if it becomes a wrestling match.
Kicks 7 7 Neither uses kicks a lot.
Ground and
8 9 Okami's speciality is doling out punishment on the ground. Ask Mike Swick.
7 8 This is important for Franklin.
Chin 9 8 Okami must be able to withstand Franklin's left
Submissions 9 6 Franklin is very good at jiu-jitsu.
Stamina 9 8 Both appear in top condition.
Strength 9 10 Recent opponents have raved about Okami's strength.
Intangibles 10 8 Franklin knows a win means another shot at middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

Total 82 79 Franklin's edge in the standup should be the difference.

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