LAS VEGAS, February 5 – After more than a year away, Forrest Griffin had doubts about his ability to perform in the UFC 126 co-main event against Rich Franklin Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, but Griffin got through three fast-paced rounds the way he always does – by working, and the result was a close, but unanimous decision win.
Griffin vs. Franklin
“Rusty, rusty,” said Griffin, who was sidelined by injury since his UFC 106 win over Tito Ortiz. “It’s hard to come back after a year. It’s great to be back.” See post-fight interview with Griffin
Scores were 29-28 across the board.
A trading of kicks produced a takedown by Griffin in the opening minute, and the former light heavyweight boss went right to work with his strikes. The ensuing action on the mat wasn’t pretty, but it was effective as Griffin stayed busy and tried to break his foe down. Franklin did his best to pull himself free, but the bigger Griffin wasn’t having it, and he finished the round in complete control. See post-fight interview with Franklin
Franklin was able to get his striking game in gear early in round two, but in the second minute Griffin got the bout back to the mat, this time taking his opponent’s back. Franklin was able to struggle back to his feet though, drawing a roar from the crowd. Again, Franklin was the crisper striker, but it was Griffin who rocked his foe with a chopping punch. Franklin recovered quickly and got back in the pocket, picking his shots more carefully than the more active Griffin, who was taking deep breaths through the late stages of the round.
Despite fatigue, both fighters kept working in round three, with each having their moments both standing and on the mat, but it was Griffin emerging with the victory when the final bell sounded.
With the win, Griffin improves to 18-6; Franklin falls to 28-6 with 1 NC.
Ellenberger vs. Rocha
Jake Ellenberger pinned the first pro loss on Carlos Eduardo Rocha’s record, winning a close three round split decision over the Brazilian in welterweight action. See post-fight interview
Scores were 29-28 twice and 27-30 for Ellenberger, who improves to 24-5; Rocha falls to 9-1.
Ellenberger and Rocha traded takedowns in the opening stages of the bout, with Rocha having more success as he pinned his foe to the mat while working from side control. Staying active, Rocha worked on securing Ellenberger’s leg from the north-south position, but Ellenberger worked his way free and got back to his feet with a minute left. Rocha came up short on an ensuing takedown attempt, but while Ellenberger pounded away with strikes, the Brazilian almost scored a rolling kimura that had the fans roaring as the round ended.
Round two was a tactical one, with Ellenberger able to land enough strikes, as well as a late takedown, to win the frame.
Rocha’s final round attack consisted of a steady diet of leg kicks, with Ellenberger unable to get off with his own strikes with any consistency. “The Juggernaut” did score a takedown late in the fight, apparently sealing the victory for himself.
Torres vs. Banuelos
Former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Angel Torres was successful in his UFC debut as he scored a shutout three round unanimous decision win over Antonio Banuelos. See post-fight interview
All three judges saw the bout 30-27 for Torres.
Banuelos had few answers for Torres’ height and reach advantage, leaving Torres to simply poke at his foe with his jab for five minutes while occasionally delivering a right hand or kick to the legs.
Torres didn’t deviate from his fight plan in round two, but as he upped his work rate and his accuracy, he left Banuelos’ face reddened and nose bloodied, and in the third round the East Chicago native began walking his foe down, even rocking him in the final minute. And while Banuelos was game, he was unable to do anything to Torres outside of a late flurry of activity in the final ten seconds.
With the win, Torres improves to 38-3; Banuelos falls to 19-7.
UFC 126 Main Card: Griffin Returns with Win over Franklin
Read on for the UFC 126 main card report...