They say that you can’t go home again, and if that’s the case then the light heavyweight division was never Rich Franklin’s crib. After having fought in three different weight classes over his previous four contests, Franklin is heading back to where it all started with the UFC, but this time he has gold on his mind.
“We want Rich to stay at 205 pounds. He’s gonna stay in the 205-pound division and take a run at the title,” stated UFC president Dana White.
There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the organization’s former middleweight king after getting two healthy servings of Anderson Silva knees to the grill. Franklin, ahem the UFC, planned for his return to the light heavyweight division, the weight class in which he started his UFC career.
“I’ve always been one of those fighters that fights for the organization,” Franklin said. “If they want me to fight a fight at 205, I’ll fight at 205. If they want me to go back down and fight at 185, I’ll fight at 185 … whatever Dana asks me to do.”
Those might be the most PC words ever uttered out of the former math teacher’s mouth. Thankfully for him, what he really wanted to say actually came out of White’s mouth.
“I think (Rich’s) next fight is gonna be with one of the top guys at 205,” stated White.
That sounded a lot like Franklin’s mentality heading into this past weekend’s 195-pound catch weight fight against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99. Franklin felt that if he posted a solid W over the former Pride FC champ, his name should be right up there with the other top contenders in the UFC’s most coveted division.
“(Wanderlei’s) a 205-pound fighter, so winning this fight would definitely put me in the mix of things at 205 pounds,” Franklin stated pre-UFC 99. “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.”
Franklin managed to walk away with a narrow, if not controversial, unanimous decision this past Saturday, and although it wasn’t in the dominant fashion he was hoping for, it appears that his performance satisfied White enough to ensure that Richie will be mixing it up with the best light heavyweights the UFC has to offer.
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