Franklin vs Le: Exciting Main Event Ultimately Means Nothing in Title Picture

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Cung Le (center) celebrates his win over Patrick Coto during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

The UFC's first foray into China gave us some new highlight material in Cung Le's explosive knockout of Rich Franklin, but it didn't give us a title contender.

Le's thunderous punch was fun, no doubt.

It's is an instant candidate for knockout of the year. It's all but guaranteed to be played over and over while heavy metal music plays to hype several UFC events in the near future. It's probably the highlight of Le's short UFC career up to this point.

That being said, when we look back on the event, it won't have much relevance to the title picture in the 185 pound division.

Both were great choices to headline the UFC's first appearance in China. Between Franklin's penchant for earning finishes and Le's elite striking, there was no way this fight could disappoint in terms of excitement.

In the culture of instant reaction, it's easy to get swept away with the power that Le put on display. This was more than a "lucky punch," as Le would have you believe. His masterful striking lead to a perfectly timed counter that had Franklin seeing stars. There's no denying that it was a legitimate victory.

You can, however, question the significance of the win.

The reality is that Cung Le is 40 years old and doesn't deserve to be anywhere near a title shot at this point.

In Franklin, Le was fighting a legend of the UFC. A win over one of the greatest middleweights of all time is a great achievement, but it doesn't mean what it used to.

Most fans recognize Franklin's name and can recall that he was a marquee fighter once upon a time, but this is a fighter that hasn't won back-to-back fights since 2008 when he beat Matt Hamill and Travis Lutter in successive fashion.

Even Franklin's most recent wins have come against fellow old timers in Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell. Considering his performance against Le, it wouldn't be surprising to see Franklin retire.

For Le to deserve a title shot anytime soon, he'll need a few more wins over some fighters that are more relevant—preferably against one of the division's better grapplers.

Le's win was impressive, but he in no way, shape or form deserves to jump to the likes of Chris Weidman, Michael Bisping or even Brian Stann in the middleweight pecking order anytime soon.