When Rich Franklin made the decision to move back to middleweight, just about everyone wondered if he'd be able to earn another shot at the title.
Franklin exited the 185-pound division after two losses to Anderson Silva, but now returns in hopes of one day securing another shot at the Brazilian. The fact is, outside of the two losses to Silva, Franklin has never been defeated at middleweight, but he's still got a long ladder to climb before fathoming a third fight against the most dominant champion in UFC history.
Following a short-notice catchweight fight and victory over Wanderlei Silva in June, Franklin returns this weekend to face Cung Le in China in the headline fight of UFC on Fuel TV 6. Of course, Franklin would love to secure another middleweight title shot, but he knows it won't happen with a win in this fight. More importantly, he knows there's no chance of even getting into title shot conversations with a loss.
“I have a fight against Cung and I don't really think beyond that fight. I don't think about title shots, this and that, and I don't think, well, if I win or if I lose. I never put the possibility of ‘if I lose' in my head because if you do that you're automatically opening yourself up to a loss, and once you do that, you've lost the fight,” said Franklin when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.
“I have to be motivated to beat Cung and that's it. I have Cung on November 10th, and it doesn't matter what comes after that, and it's not important. What's important right now is winning that fight because if I didn't win that fight those opportunities aren't going to come anyways. It doesn't matter whether I'd be motivated by them or not.”
There is no doubt that Franklin would love to earn another crack at the UFC middleweight title before his career comes to a close, but it's not within his grasp at this time, so there's no real reason to talk about it.
“I don't believe the UFC, I don't believe they're going to give me a title fight after this. I believe there's going to be another step in that process, and I don't know who that would be, if it would be somebody like a (Michael) Bisping, or something like that, but winning a fight always puts you in the right direction,” said Franklin.
“I still don't think the UFC is interested in doing a Franklin/Silva 3.”
A win is what's most important to Franklin because without that there's no need to even talk about title fights, contender spots, or top ten status.
Franklin will surely have to address a few of those questions with a victory over Cung Le in China, however.
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