Yesterday, Rich Franklin said that he wasn’t ready to retire yet and he wanted to fight Michael Bisping. Now, coming off of a loss to Cung Le, it is clear that Franklin is never going to challenge for a title again, while Michael Bisping has been searching for a route to the title since he joined the UFC. Every time Bisping has gotten close to a potential title shot, he lost to guys like Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen.
I think we all can see that in terms of rankings, this fight doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, yet now I have a strong desire to see it. Franklin has always been a fan favorite while Bisping has been anything but during his time in the UFC. This illustrates the kind of capital you can achieve by endearing yourself towards fans: at age 38, Franklin has established himself as a company man and both the fans and the UFC accept that he can dictate his own terms, within reason. On the other hand, Bisping might find himself on the wrong end of what he probably sees as a mismatch.
I don’t think rankings really matter in this case because no one honestly believes Bisping will ever reach a title shot. And if he did, can you imagine the beatdown that Anderson Silva would lay on Bisping? That fight wouldn’t sell because no one would think Bisping even has a punchers chance. Even if Silva lost to Chris Weidman and Bisping was matched up with Weidman, I don’t see any avenues for Bisping to beat Weidman. Though Bisping will probably never admit it, it’s clear that Bisping will never be a title challenger. That doesn’t mean you can match up anyone with Bisping but Franklin has established enough credit with the UFC and fans that they can buy into a Franklin v. Bisping fight.
And honestly, Franklin might provide an interesting matchup for Bisping anyway. His clinch work could help him avoid the high-paced boxing attack that Bisping employs. In any case, Franklin has always been a decent draw and can put on a good show against Bisping before retiring from the sport forever. In my mind, Franklin has earned a fight with Bisping at this point in his career. While they may be far apart in the rankings, the actual fight might play out in an intriguing way for the former champion.
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