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Rich Franklin Thinks It Would Be ‘Great’ To Return To Middleweight, But Leaving His Future In UFC’s Hands

If you’ve wondered exactly where Rich Franklin fits in in the UFC the past few years, you’re not alone.

On The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani today, Franklin expressed a little frustration with how the UFC has handled him since Anderson Silva ran him out of the middleweight division. He fought a couple catchweight fights against Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, but the rest have come against guys in the light heavyweight division who outweigh him by as much as 25 lbs. on fight night. Franklin is content with putting on exciting fights wherever the UFC needs him, but he didn’t appreciate how Dana White basically implied that he ducked a fight against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 133 when he actually told his manager he would take it.

“I listened to the interview that you did with Dana, and was a bit disappointed…I’ll be honest with you, I was a bit disappointed listening to that, because the tone of the interview between you and Dana almost sounded like that. I thought, first of all, I’ve never ducked any other opponent in my life.”

In fact, Franklin said, the only time he’s ever said no to the UFC was when he was asked to fight Reese Andy, who had recently been a training partner of his. Aside from that, he said, he always agreed to whatever the UFC offered, and at whatever weight, which is why “for that kind of stuff to come out and to question, I guess, my motives or my character or whatever, it was very upsetting to me.”

The incident bothered Franklin so much, he ended up raising his concerns with the big bossman, Lorenzo Fertitta.

“That feeling of family, it’s dissipated a little bit,” Franklin said. “It’s not the same as it used to be when I first starting fighting for the UFC, and I basically told Lorenzo that. I said, ‘Hey, I feel like sometimes you guys don’t really have my back,’ and he told me that they’d been really busy with the FOX deal and all that kind of stuff.”

Rich says they’ve worked it out since then, but now he’s stuck on the sidelines until next summer rehabbing his shoulder. Franklin says it would be “great” to return to the middleweight division when he’s physically ready to get back in the Octagon, but he’s going to leave it in the UFC’s hands to decide.

Who knows, by the time he’s ready to go, maybe Chael Sonnen will be the middleweight champion, paving the way for Franklin to return to the weight class he once held a title in. If not, Franklin’s probably going to be stuck in this 195/205 lbs. purgatory he’s found himself in recent years.

Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog

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