When Rich Franklin found out the UFC needed his help to fill an opening against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 it would have been both easy and understandable for him to have said, “No.” After all, the former middleweight champion was already in the midst of preparing to fight Cung Le on July 7, arguably an easier draw, and hadn’t seen action since February 2011 due to a serious shoulder injury.
However, “Ace” still stepped up and hasn’t looked back since. While he’ll have to wait until Saturday night to find out if he made the right decision, from the sound of it Franklin has no regrets about assisting the organization he’s spent the bulk of his career in.
“I like being the guy that people can count on. I kind of embrace that role,” admitted Franklin in a recent interview with MMAJunkie. “When I heard that Vitor (Belfort) was hurt, I knew the UFC was going to end up calling me. And sure enough, they did. I won’t say it was just because I’ve bailed them out before, but I was ready for a fight already, and I was pretty much at the point where I was peaking for a fight.”
Other than just lending a hand to deliver a headliner at UFC 147, Franklin also agreed to face Silva as a means of helping re-establish his place in the 185-pound pool given the Brazilian’s November victory over Le. While it may seem far-fetched at the moment, ultimately Franklin is hoping to make one final run at divisional gold before hanging up his trademark pink/brown trunks.
“I talked to the UFC about dropping back down to 185, and they liked the idea. A win here I think will start jockeying me in that position, and I’ll start looking at a possible title hunt after that,” said the 37-year old star while also acknowledging he understands his remaining days inside the Octagon are limited.
Franklin held the middleweight title years ago, defending it twice successfully before running into Anderson Silva who hasn’t lost since they met. Shortly after a second stumble against “The Spider,” Franklin was urged to move to 205-pounds in order to allow new contenders to surface where he went 3-3 including wins over Matt Hamill, Chuck Liddell, and the very man he’ll face this weekend in Brazil.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC