By Thomas Gerbasi
DUBLIN, January 17 – Before a packed house of 9,369 fans at the O2 Dublin, Dan Henderson outlasted Rich Franklin via a three round split decision in the main event of UFC 93 Saturday night, not only answering the recurring question of who would win between the two MMA superstars, but also giving “Hendo” the coaching spot on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Scores were 29-28 twice for Henderson, with the third judge scoring it 30-27 for Franklin.
After a tactical opening, Henderson landed the first major blow of the fight with his patented right hand. But as Henderson rushed in to capitalize on jarring Franklin, he slipped, forcing the fight to the mat. Henderson quickly recovered, pushing Franklin against the fence and proceeding to fire away with punches and knees. Midway through the round, Franklin got back to his feet, and “Ace” started to get his own offense into gear with hard kicks to the midsection that were broken up by the occasional kick to the leg or punch to the head. By the end of the round, a clash of heads had bloodied Franklin’s forehead, but the former middleweight boss simply smiled as the cameras focused in on him between rounds.
Henderson aggressively chased after his foe at times in the second round, but Franklin’s patient countering nullified the rushes. In the second half of the round, Henderson finally sought refuge back on the mat, where he could work his ground and pound and put some more points on the board. Franklin held Henderson close when he could in an effort to force a standup, but “Hendo” was constant motion as he broke free and kept firing away while keeping Franklin on his back until the bell sounded.
Franklin began the final round with more urgency, but his aggression also allowed him to get taken down again by Henderson, who pounded away again. Neither fighter wanted to give up an inch of Octagon real estate, making the fight compelling to watch, and when Franklin rose to his feet, he again went on the offensive, much to the delight of the crowd. An inadvertent poke in the eye by Henderson sent Franklin to the mat and brought a stop to the action with under 40 seconds left, but after the break, Franklin got right back in the pocket, looking to finish. Henderson did the same with his lethal right hand, but neither man would get their wish, sending the bout to the scorecards, where Henderson took the nod and the coaching spot for season nine of TUF against middleweight contender Michael Bisping.
With the win, Henderson improves to 24-7; Franklin falls to 26-4 with 1 NC.
TUF Enough - Henderson Beats Franklin, gets Ultimate Fighter Gig
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Before a packed house of 9,369 fans at the O2 Dublin, Dan Henderson outlasted Rich Franklin via a three round split decision in the main event of UFC 93 Saturday night, not only answering the recurring question of who would win between the two MMA superstars, but also giving “Hendo” the coaching spot on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.