“If I continue doing the things I need to do and winning fights and stuff like that, eventually I’ll make my way back to a title run…If I can get back to a title run, that’d be a great Cinderella story for me before I retire. If not, between now and then, if I’m putting on great fights for the fans then I’m happy doing that…Fighting at 195, it wasn’t my idea for this fight. It was just something that Vitor requested. At this point in time I’m not in the title hunt at 205, perhaps I will be at some point in time as long as I keep winning fights. Until then, if the UFC has exciting fights for me at 195 pounds… then I’m willing to drop.”
—Rich Franklin, via MMA Weekly, reiterating that he’s not worried about making a title run
Title shots may not be on Rich Franklin’s mind, but like a lot of things in life, opportunities fall in your lap when you’re not looking for them.
Check this out. Zak Woods posted a great story over at WKR breaking down the light heavyweight division. He points out that the big end-of-year show (UFC 108) needs a title fight, and by process of elimination it’s either going to be a middleweight title fight or a light heavyweight title fight. Who knows what Anderson Silva is going to do, and even if they can get him to agree to the Hendo rematch, their first encounter only drew 325,000 buys, so it’s probably not the kind of match-up the UFC wants to bank one of their biggest shows of the year on. Point being, there’s a damn good chance the light heavyweight belt will be on the line come Jan. 2.
But that poses another problem. Who would Machida/Shogun fight? With such a deep pool of talent in the light heavyweight division, you would think there would be a multitude of options for the UFC. There isn’t. Zak systematically eliminated everyone in the top 12 except for, you guessed it, Rich Franklin. (I’ve added reasoning in italics)
- Lyoto Machida
- Rashad Evans Waiting for Rampage fight
- Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Playing Mr. T in A-Team, Rashad waiting in the wings
- Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
- Forrest Griffin Coming off loss
- Keith Jardine Coming off loss
- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira Fighting in Nov UFC 106
- Rich Franklin
- Luis Cane Fighting in Nov UFC 106
- Anderson Silva Won’t fight Machida, would he fight Shogun for title? Would UFC let him fight for second belt?
- Thiago Silva Lost to Machida earlier this year
- Randy Couture Fighting in Nov UFC 105
There are two other slight possibilities. If Shogun beats Machida, then Thiago Silva is back in play. Or, and this is extremely unlikely but possible, if Machida-Shogun turns out to be an incredibly entertaining and epic five round battle with a controversial decision (think Rampage-Forrest), they could always do an immediate rematch.
Anyways, moral of the story is Rich Franklin may not be looking for a title shot, but if he beats Vitor Belfort on Saturday he may find himself in the right place at the right time.
It’s pretty easy to see now why Dana wants Gegard Mousasi so bad.