DALLAS -- Vitor Belfort continued his resurgence Saturday with a knockout victory over Rich Franklin in the main event of UFC 103 at the American Airlines Center.
Belfort landed a winging left early that looked like a grazing shot, but it dropped Franklin to his knees. The Brazilian then swarmed with heavy punches until Franklin went limp. Referee Yves Lavigne stopped the bout at 3:02 of the first round.
While the finish was explosive, initially Belfort had the crowd wondering which version had shown up in Texas. The inconsistent but talented mixed martial artist has long frustrated fans. The hesitant, reluctant-to-engage Belfort seemed to be the one standing across from Franklin for the first couple of minutes of the bout.
He answered any and all questions about his mindset and training in an instant, though, when he floored Franklin and finished him. UFC president Dana White had speculated before the fight that Belfort, should he win, would make a great opponent for middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
"I'm here to work," Belfort said of a potential matchup. "Anderson's my friend. I like him as a fighter. A great fighter. But if Dana and Frank [Fertitta] decide I'm an employ and I'm here to fight anyone who steps in the ring."
Franklin (25-5) never found his rhythm as Belfort easily eluded him throughout the round.
"Losing wasn't part of my plan," Franklin said, "so I'm just going to have to let the dust settle and figure out what's going on."