The upcoming fight between Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin at light heavyweight was not, it appears, an original idea for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
According to a source from Henderson’s camp who asked to remain anonymous, Henderson originally accepted an offer to fight against Franklin at UFC 88 on Sept. 6 in Atlanta, Georgia, but was later told Franklin’s camp turned the fight down.
At the time, Henderson was coming off a loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 82, while Franklin had last defeated Travis Lutter at UFC 83. Both were at crossroads in their respective careers due to middleweight Anderson Silva’s dominance, and had been suggested for the light heavyweight division (Henderson’s suggestions had been far more frequent).
Franklin ended up fighting Matt Hamill in the co-main event of UFC 88, while Henderson was slotted one fight before against jiu-jitsu ace Rousimar Palhares in a middleweight showcase.
Franklin’s light heavyweight return was successful, no doubt leading the UFC to push for a main event meeting at UFC 93.
The two lend much-needed star power to the UFC’s second trip to Ireland. Historically, events held abroad draw lower pay per view buyrates for the Las Vegas-based organization. In the end, the timing might have been just right.