by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC middleweight titleholder Rich “Ace” Franklin and former long-time Pride champion Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva headline the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut event in Germany at UFC 99 on June 13 at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne.
Franklin recently moved back up to the light heavyweight division from the 185-pound weight class. Silva has stated his intentions to move down to middleweight after competing his entire career in heavier divisions. Their UFC 99 main event bout will take place at a catchweight of 195 pounds.
“I met Rich in the middle,” UFC president Dana White said of the decision for the catchweight. “Rich didn’t want to cut weight. He didn’t want to go back to 85, and Wanderlei hasn’t been to 85 yet.”
Franklin fought the first half of his career as a light heavyweight before switching divisions and capturing the UFC 185-pound crown from the late Evan Tanner at UFC 53 in June of 2005. After losing to current middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva twice, Franklin decided to return to light heavyweight. Since making the transition back to 205 pounds, Franklin has defeated Matt Hamill and lost a razor close decision to Dan Henderson.
After losing three of his last four outings as a light heavyweight, Silva made the choice to move down to middleweight. He’s spent much of his storied career fighting bigger opponents, but before shedding the 20 pounds to weigh in at 185, Silva will only have to make it half way there for his scheduled 195-pound match with Franklin.
The UFC doesn’t usually do catchweight bouts unless a fighter fails to make weight, like Joe Riggs against Matt Hughes at UFC 56 or Travis Lutter against Anderson Silva at UFC 67. But the UFC has put together catchweight bouts, such as Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie at UFC 60, if it’s a match up the fans want to see. Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin definitely fit into that category.
“I think it’s a fun fight and it will be a fun fight to watch,” said White.
Regardless of the outcome, Franklin will continue to compete at light heavyweight while Silva is expected to debut as a middleweight in his next scheduled bout following the Franklin fight.