Former UFC middleweight champion, Rich “Ace” Franklin, will be making his return to the light heavyweight division on Saturday. Franklin will be looking to put his career back on track against Matt Hamill. The man that dominated the 185-pound division just two years ago now finds himself starting all over again, in what is now the deepest and most glamorous division in the world.
“(UFC matchmaker) Joe (Silva) had talked to me about moving to 205 right after my second (Anderson) Silva loss, and nobody forced me to make this decision, but they were very encouraging about me moving to 205. The reason being is that they’re not interested in doing Franklin-Silva III,” Franklin said. “They don’t think that it would really sell, and I would still have to put some wins together to get there anyway.
“In the meantime, they don’t want me fighting the top contenders because there’s the possibility of me eliminating title fights. So really, I’m stuck in a position of fighting guys who just lost their title shot to Anderson, and it leaves me in a position in the weight class where I don’t have a whole lot to look forward to other than my next fight. So at least the decision to move to 205 is more proactive. I have something to shoot for, I can make a possible title run if I can put a few wins together here, and I’m not just some gatekeeper.”
So at the tender age of 33, Franklin looks to rejuvenate his MMA career. The logic behind his move is undeniable; there was nothing left in the middleweight division for him, because simply, he can’t beat Anderson Silva. He shouldn’t feel too badly because right now, nobody can. So why not make the change, even if the road back to the top will be ten times harder?
“I basically just threw myself in a pool of sharks,” Franklin said.
Hamill will be the first shark that Franklin has the task of taming, and he knows that it will not be easy.
“…Matt has had an impressive track record in the UFC to this point,” said Franklin. “Aside from the Michael Bisping fight, which many people would contest, he basically has an undefeated record, he’s looked impressive in the 205-pound division, and for me moving up to 205 pounds from 185, this is a tough test as to whether I’ll be able to handle that weight division or not.”
It will be unclear how far Franklin is from a title shot in the 205-pound division, or even where he ranks in the UFC’s deepest division. One thing is for certain, a solid and dominating performance on Saturday will certainly help clear the air.