September 17, 2009

by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com

Former UFC middleweight titleholder Rich "Ace"
Franklin headlines UFC 103 against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor
Belfort.  The two will complete at
a catch weight of 195 pounds; for Franklin it will be back-to-back fights at
what I’ve coined the heavy middleweight division.


What does a win at 195 do for a fighter in the middleweight
or light heavyweight division?


"That’s a good question," Franklin told
.  "I look at
myself online sometimes and I see that I don’t really have a good ranking at
205.  I don’t really have a good
ranking at 185 anymore.  I think a
lot of people don’t know where to put me in those weight classes, and I realize
that these catch weight fights are kind of doing that to me.


“I’m fighting a tough opponent here.  He’s a big named opponent, and it’s
going to be an exciting fight.  And
I know if this continues to happen, as long as I keep winning fights, at some
point and time I’m going to have to get in the mix somewhere, and I’ll let that
work itself out."


Asked if he thinks there needs to be a 195-pound division
established, Franklin answered, "I’m not one pushing for it.  I didn’t request the 195 against
Wanderlei Silva.  It was kind of
something they came up with because I said I wasn’t going move back down to 185
for that fight.  And I didn’t
request 195 for this fight. 
Actually, Vitor did.


"I’m not really sure why he did.  I’m really confused about it because
there was talk of him possibly fighting Fedor (Emelianenko) after the whole
thing with (Josh) Barnett happened," continued the 34-year-old
fighter.  "If he was willing
to fight him at heavyweight, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t fight me a light
heavyweight even though he decided to go down to 185, but for whatever reason
he requested 195 and I’m happy to fight him here.  I’m just really, at this point in time, interested in
putting on fights that are entertaining that the fans seek."


Belfort hasn’t competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship
since UFC 51 in February of 2005, but returns riding a four-fight win
streak.  Known as a streaky
fighter, Franklin expects to see Belfort in top form on Sept. 19 at the
American Airlines Arena.


"I’m expecting the new Vitor, and I’m expecting the new
Vitor to be better than the old Vitor," said the former middleweight
titleholder.  "Looking at
tapes on him, he looks as fast as he did when he was the old Vitor, but he
looks a little more well-rounded now, a more proficient ground game… I’m
coming in and prepping for the best Vitor I could possibly fight."


(Watch the
entire UFC 103 pre-fight video interview with Rich Franklin on MMAWeekly.com.)