After getting ravaged worse than Ponyboy for the second time by Anderson Silva back in 2007, it was quite clear that Rich Franklin just wasn’t welcome at 185 any longer. It was a sad day, considering ol’ Rich is widely regarded as one of the sweetest human beings in the sport. But fans can only stand so many in-cage nasal reconstructions before they can’t stands no more. So Franklin departed middleweight for the cool ocean breeze of the light-heavyweight and catchweight divisions. Well, now after a six year hiatus, he’s back at middleweight.
In his way stands Cung Le, who Rich, in a painfully obvious pragmatic sense, doesn’t believe will get him to an immediate title shot. But that’s where the pragmatism ends. Our favorite ex-high school math teacher wants a title. Oh yeah, he’s not back at 185 just to look pretty with his young-ass pink shorts and Lloyd Christmas hairdo. Nope, Rich is back to claim what was once his: the middleweight title. Yep, at 37 years old he’s making a run.
“I think the UFC is still gonna make me beat one of the top five guys that are there now possibly someone like, I dunno, Bisping or Stann or Chris Weidman or somebody like that after this fight, that’s what I’m gonna have to do to earn that title shot against Anderson.”
As a fan, it’s brutal to watch a fighter of Franklin’s stature make ludicrous public statements about title shots that will never come. And it isn’t because he’s not still a great fighter, he is. It’s because what Anderson Silva did to him is considered criminal in 47 states and has been banned by the Geneva Convention. And no amount of passing time is great enough to diminish the terrifying image of Franklin’s face when he realized he couldn’t escape Silva’s murderous clinch.
Franklin will do well at 185. He’s still a bad dude, but a title shot? I don’t think so. He’s there to bulk up cards with name value and quality fighting. He’ll make money. He’ll entertain as he always has. If he lets his big fat fightballs hang out, he’ll further his legend. But he’s not getting a title shot. Not while Silva is still pimp-slapping middleweights.