MANILA, Philippines – Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Rich Franklin ruined the homecoming of Wanderlei Silva as he outpointed the "Axe Murderer" in the main event of UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
After five rounds of back-and-forth action, Franklin was declared the winner by unanimous decision, with all the judges scoring the bout 49-46.
Silva, who was fighting in Brazil for the first time since August 2000, failed to avenge his loss to Franklin at UFC 99 in June 2009, which he also lost by unanimous decision.
Silva nearly ended the fight towards the end of the second round, when he caught Franklin with a series of big punches, including a right hook to the chin that dropped Franklin to the canvas.
Silva swarmed Franklin on the ground, dropping several hammer fists but Franklin managed to survive.
"At the end of the second round, I thought I was gonna knock him out, and I really wanted to, but I'm sorry I wasn't able to," Silva said, apologizing to the wild crowd that filled the Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond.
Franklin easily won rounds three and four as Silva seemed to have gassed himself out. He was particularly effective in moving out of range of Silva's big right hand, but the fifth round was a different matter as the Brazilian poured it on towards the end.
After spending the early parts of the fifth round pacing himself, Silva pushed forward with about a minute to go, tagging Franklin with consecutive right hands to the head.
Franklin managed to survive the onslaught and even sneaked in a left straight to Silva just as the buzzer sounded.
Afterward, Franklin admitted that he blacked out for a while after the second round.
"I remember him between the second round, and the next thing I know, it's the fifth round," he said. When a fight replay showed him getting tagged by Silva in the second round, Franklin said, "Oh, I don't remember that."
"When that kind of stuff happens, you remember bits and pieces. My coach was telling me to pick my punches and move around, and I think I was doing a good job of that in the fifth round," he added.
Franklin said he wants to move back to the middleweight division for good and "maybe make a title run before I retire."
UFC president Dana White awarded both Franklin and Silva $65,000 each for putting on the Fight of the Night.
Meanwhile, the undercard bouts saw the final matches of the first ever "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil."
In the featherweight finals, Rony Mariano Bezzera defeated Godofredo Pepey via unanimous decision in a wild, back-and-forth bout that saw Bezzera go down twice due to inadvertent kicks to the groin.
In the middleweight final, Cezar Ferreira took a unanimous decision against Sergio Moraes in another entertaining scrap.
Hometown hero Fabricio Werdum was also successful in the undercard, knocking out Mike Russow in just the first round.