This is a pretty surprising announcement. From UFC.com:
Their first bout split the mixed martial arts community, making it obvious that they needed more than 15 minutes to settle their score. On Saturday, September 19th, UFC superstars Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin will meet again in the main event of UFC 103 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, with Henderson looking to make it 2-0 over the former middleweight champ, and Franklin trying to even things up with the former two division PRIDE champion.
The official UFC web site also formally confirms that Cro Cop will indeed be taking on Junior dos Santos in a bout that will have serious title implications. Assuming the Carwin vs. Velasquez winner receives the next heavyweight title shot — and that Fedor stays far, far away from the Octagon for the foreseeable future — it would make sense for Joe Silva to match up the winners of the Couture v. Nogueira and Cro Cop v. dos Santos fights to determine the “next in line.” Then again, Frank Mir still remains relevant in the division, holding a win over some guy named Brock Lesnar. Hell, the UFC heavyweight division is officially baaalllllllllliiiin.
But what do we make of Franklin v. Henderson II? Kid Nate over at Bloody Elbow is none too happy about the situation.
Damn. This is just feeble match-making. This fight gets neither fighter anywhere in their careers. The first fight was not exactly a barn-burner either.
…Those who argue that the UFC is putting on too many events and stacking their big cards too deep have a case here. It also doesn’t help that the reality show post-pones at least one headliner a quarter for several months.
An old wise man once said that you can put a pig in a dress and lipstick but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig. I know this is true because I once dressed your mother in a slim-fittiing summer dress and some hot red lipstick but, to my dismay, she was still a pig. (Yeah, that’s a burn.) For Nate and those that share his sentiments, Franklin v. Hendo II is that pig.
I say nay. Not every UFC main event is going to feature a true super fight the likes of Brock Lesnar v. Frank Mir or Anderson Silva v. Forrest Griffin. The fight we have here is at the least a serviceable pay-per-view main event. Rich Franklin is a legitimate star, a former champion, and also hit his peak at the same time the UFC itself was exploding. Hendo is a future Hall of Famer who has endeared himself to the casual fans with the wars he has had with Rampage and Franklin — and that’s not mentioning his highlight-reel KO of Michael Bisping at UFC 100.
But I don’t think the criticism of this fight is geared towards the star power of either man. The fact that many feel this fight won’t elevate either man is the real concern. I simply don’t see how anyone could feel that way. The first fight literally could have gone either way. Giving these two guys 15 more minutes in the cage together will increase the likelihood of someone actually finishing the goddamn fight. If it turns out to be a repeat of the first fight and there is no clear cut winner, then yeah, neither fighter will really get anywhere. But I doubt that will happen. These two will each be hungry to finish the other man and go on to bigger and better things.
Considering Franklin followed the last bout with a classic war with Wanderlei Silva and Hendo went on to nearly put Bisping in a permanent vegetative state, a win here for either man will be a very big deal. A Franklin victory will put him at the top of the contender list at 205, alongside the Rashad v. Rampage winner and Forrest Griffin, should he shock the world and defeat Silva. As for Hendo, a win will all but guarantee him a second crack at the middleweight champion.
Anybody out there who has been crying that the Marquardt v. Maia winner should be the rightful top contender ais the real winner here. Should Franklin best Hendo in Dallas, there is no doubt that either Nate Marquardt or Demian Maia will be fighting for the 185 lb strap sometime in the near future.