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Rich Franklin feels rift developing with UFC

Ask most fans to name five of the most recognized fighters in UFC history and chances are Rich Franklin’s name will come up on more than one list. An eight year veteran of the organization, Franklin has delivered a number of memorable performances inside the Octagon including a reign as 185-pound champion and past wins over Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, Wanderlei Silva, and Chuck Liddell.

However, “Ace” has sensed a change lately regarding his relationship with the UFC and pointed to a recent interview with Dana White for reference.

In a July conversation White explained Franklin hadn’t been pulled from UFC 133 after his original adversary, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, went out with injury but rather that Franklin turned down the bout he was offered.

“We had another opponent for Rich but Rich didn’t want to take that fight. 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. I want to fight the top name guys,” the UFC President revealed to AOL.

“I’ve never ducked any other opponent in my life,” Franklin stated in response today on The MMA Hour while expressing his disappointment in White’s comments.

“That feeling of family, it’s dissipated a little bit,” the 37-year old continued. “It’s not the same as it used to be when I first starting fighting for the UFC, and I basically told Lorenzo Fertitta that. I said, ‘Hey, I feel like sometimes you guys don’t really have my back,’ and he told me that they’d been really busy with the FOX deal and all that kind of stuff.”

Ever the “company man”, a label the surefire Hall of Famer acknowledged in its basis, the 28-6 middleweight said his immediate focus will be on recovering from shoulder surgery and returning to the ring at some point in 2012. However, the weight the match-up will take place at, or when he’ll actually be scheduled to fight, are things he plans on leaving up to the UFC based on his divisional limbo as an undersized 205er who has struck out twice against 185-pound title-holder Anderson Silva.

“If the UFC said something to me about fighting at middleweight again, I’d be great with that (but) if they’re not going to let me work toward a title, in the meantime, as long as I can just work at putting on exciting fights and that stuff, then I’m good with doing that.”