Rich Franklin vs. Michael Bisping? 'The Count' could board the 'Ace' Express in early 2013

Mark Nolan

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin envisions a scenario where he could be matched up against Michael Bisping somewhere down the road. But he'll first have to tangle with Cung Le while "The Count" goes to war against Vitor Belfort.

Combined, they're 52-10 with 16 years of Octagon experience between them, yet Rich Franklin and Michael Bisping -- who both competed in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight class for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- have never touched gloves.

Yet.

Franklin is expected to lock horns with Cung Le this Saturday night (Nov. 10, 2012) in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 6 from the CotaiArena in Macao, China, while Bisping is headed south for the winter to battle Vitor Belfort this January in Brazil.

And as "Ace" tells MMA Weekly, a win -- as well as a loss -- could set them on a potential collision course.

"I have a fight against Cung and I don't really think beyond that fight. I don't think about title shots, this and that, and I don't think, well, if I win or if I lose. I don't believe the UFC [is] going to give me a title fight after this. I believe there's going to be another step in that process. I don't know who that would be, if it would be somebody like a Bisping, or something like that, but winning a fight always puts you in the right direction. I still don't think the UFC is interested in doing a Franklin/Silva 3."

Not coincidentally, "The Count" has gone on record with ESPN.co.uk to express his desire to battle the former division champ "out of respect."

"I've always looked up to Rich Franklin, he's an incredible fighter, he's got incredible passion for the sport, we match up well in terms of a fight, and he'd be a tough fight. I'd like to fight him out of respect, he's one of the all-time greats. I've got nothing but respect for Rich, he's a fantastic fighter."

How about it, fight fans?

While the stars would have to align for this fantasy fight to happen, it's not outside the realm of possibility. But would they be more likely to clash coming off wins, or losses? And who takes home the victory if and when they finally hook 'em up?

Predictions please.

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