Former UFC champion Rich Franklin plays gatekeeper for no one, not even for the UFC. With his middleweight window closing smaller and smaller with every Anderson Silva knee to the grill, Franklin decided the latest chapter of his MMA career would take him down a familiar road.
“Basically, [the UFC] made it pretty clear to me that they were putting me in a gatekeeper position,” Franklin told MMAWeekly.com. “I couldn’t fight top contenders because they didn’t want me to fight Anderson (Silva) again. Me fighting top contenders could possibly eliminate title matches and that’s not something they were interested in doing.”
There really weren’t many options left for the former math teacher at this stage in his illustrious career. He was at a serious crossroads, but he knew exactly which path to take.
“From my position, it looked like I was going to end up fighting guys on the back end of their title losses, which was something I definitely wasn’t interested in doing for the rest of my career,” Franklin said of his two choices. “At which point I made the decision I would move to light heavyweight.”
It’s a division Franklin is familiar with as his first-ever Octagon appearance was at 205. Although he didn’t stay there long enough to make as much of an impact as he did in the middleweight class, he is definitely ready to give it a go now.
“As far as I’m concerned, my next fight with Wanderlei Silva, this one happens to be at a catchweight,” said Franklin. “But he’s a 205-pound fighter, so winning this fight would definitely put me in the mix of things at 205 pounds. How close to the title it puts me, I’m not really sure, and I really don’t care at this point and time. My main objective is to win the next fight that’s in front of me, and if at some point in time that turns into a title run, then great.”
If Franklin can sell the UFC on his logic, then an impressive W over Wandy at UFC 99 should have Franklin neck-and-neck with the other light heavyweight contenders.
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