When Rich Franklin was taken off the UFC 133 fight card, it was widely believed the promotion was unable to find him a suitable replacement for the injured Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on the Aug. 6 pay-per-view (PPV) in Philadelphia.
Turns out he had a suitable replacement, he just didn't want to fight him, because he wasn't a "top name guy."
Ready to step in was Alexander Gustafsson, the 24-year-old prospect out of Alliance and Gladius MMA who's lost just once in his budding professional career. That defeat came at the hands of fellow rising contender Phil Davis back at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, a second round submission (anaconda choke).
"The Mauler" is widely considered one of the division's most dangerous up-and-comers and when it came down to risk vs. reward, Franklin said "Thanks, but no thanks."
MMA Fighting has more:
"It's not that we decided to take him off the (UFC 133) card, we were looking at other opponents and we had [one], but Rich didn't want to take that fight," according to UFC President Dana White. "He said 'You know what man, I'm at a stage in my career where I only want to fight the top of the heap, the top name guys.' I don't blame him. You know me, when we're looking to make a new fight and we have people available and an opponent there, I expect that you should take that opponent, but I don't disagree with Rich's position on it. It was Gustafsson. He's like 'Listen man, I've been around forever, I've been a world champion, I'm switching the fight this soon, I want to fight one of the top guys.' He wants to get back in position to take on some of the top competition in the UFC."
The good news for fight fans is Gustafsson is still competing in "The City of Brotherly Love," taking on Matt Hamill after Vladimir Matyushenko withdrew due to injury.
As for Franklin, no timetable has been set for his return, but early speculation suggests he may sit out until "Little Nog" is back on his feet.
In case you haven't been paying attention, UFC 133 has been torn to pieces and rebuilt from the ground up, as the main event will now feature a Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans rematch that could determine the next contender to the light heavyweight title.
Also getting their hands dirty in Philly are middleweight veterans Vitor Belfort and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
For the current UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz II" fight card and line-up click here.