(Rich and some of his “fishing buddies” at the Cornhole Throwdown.)
According to his manager Monte Cox, former UFC middleweight champ Rich Franklin is considering a move back up to light-heavyweight, due to his defeats against Anderson Silva and because beating any remaining contenders in the UFC’s middleweight division would be bad for the league. Franklin competed at light-heavyweight for the first 19 matches of his 27-fight career, suffering only a single loss at 205 to Lyoto Machida in 2003. Said Cox:
“He’s fought almost everybody in the 185-pound division. There are some guys that he could fight, but if he beats them it knocks them out of title contention. And nobody is looking to see Rich and Anderson Silva 3 right now, including me…He’s not helping the 185-pound division right now by beating everybody up in it…We’ve talked about going to 205 and how would he match up with some of those guys, with a Forrest Griffin or a Keith Jardine. I think there’re some really good fights. There’s a whole bunch of 205′s that I think would be interesting.”
Agreed, for the most part. You wouldn’t want to put Franklin up against Michael Bisping, and have Ace knock off the last remaining marketable contender to Silva’s belt. But it would be a tragedy if Franklin left the 185-pound division before taking on Dan Henderson — though with few logical fights out there for Henderson as a middleweight, Hendo may eventually move back up to light-heavy as well, so who knows.
What’s more certain is the financial logic behind such a move. Just before his UFC 77 rematch with Anderson Silva, Franklin signed a six-fight deal that would pay him more than the $45,000 base salary he was previously bringing in, beginning with his next fight. Salary figures from UFC 83 haven’t been released, so we don’t know the exact figure at this point, but if Franklin’s per-fight salary is now approaching the six-figure mark, the UFC would want to put him in high-profile fights to draw more revenue from pay-per-view buys and live gate. Booking Franklin against Travis Lutter probably doesn’t represent the best return on investment, in other words. But with the UFC’s light-heavyweight division packed with stars, there are a lot of big-money matchups to be made at 205. Who wouldn’t want to see Ace take on the loser of Rampage/Forrest?