Photo of Rich Franklin by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting
It was promoted by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as "the rematch the world has been waiting for." Truth be told, most of the world had forgotten that Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva ever even fought in the first place, if they're being honest.
In the promotion's defense, they didn't really have much of a choice but to squeeze every bit of promotion they could out of Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin. It was, by far, the highest profile fight on the UFC 147 fight card on June 23, 2012 in Brazil.
And we can all agree that that's not saying a lot.
We knew going into the fight that there was a lot on the line for both fighters. For Silva, a loss would have potentially signaled the end of his career. For Franklin, coming up short may not have meant the end of the line, but it would certainly put him that much farther away from that one last title shot he's been pining for before it's all said and done.
When the dust had settled from the five round, furious affair, it was Franklin who had his hand raised as the decisive winner. "Ace" was classy in victory, as always has been the case, as he put himself back in a position to make one last run at the belt.
Follow me after the jump where we'll discuss what may be next for Rich Franklin:
It was a fight that lived up to the hype -- and then some.
At one point in the second round, "Wandy" looked to have had Franklin finished, after stunning him with a head kick and following it up with a flurry of punches.
Unfortunately, Silva ran out of time, and it looked as though he also ran out of energy.
Franklin did a great job of using precision striking to pick off Silva with constant straight left hands and randomly well-placed right hooks.
Moving forward, Franklin plans on coming back to middleweight for good, presumably ending his career at 185 pounds.
So who does he fight?
I absolutely love a fight between Franklin and Alan Belcher. Both fighters want title shots. Both are coming off wins over tough Brazilians. A victory for either over the other would certainly catapult them into title contention.
Some would argue that Belcher deserves to be in title contention right now, and after the way he took down Rousimar Palhares, they might be right.
Regardless, Belcher isn't getting a title shot next. He's probably not even second or third in line, with the logjam being created by top contenders Michael Bisping, Mark Munoz, Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard. Whether you like that or not, it's the current shape of things.
Because of that, and because of Franklin's desire to get back to the top of the ladder as soon as possible, the fight makes all the sense in the world.
I could be wrong. I was once before.
Anyway, that's my ideal match up for Rich Franklin. We'd love to hear yours. Hit us up in the comment section with who you think "Ace" should face next in the Octagon!