Who Should Rich Franklin Face in His Final Fight of UFC Contract?

Hunter HomistekCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

Longtime UFC middleweight and light heavyweight standout Rich "Ace" Franklin has seen better days. 

Less than one year ago, Franklin said he wanted one more run at the middleweight title, but one perfect punch from Cung Le abruptly ended that lofty notion. 

Many took Franklin's confident aspirations with a grain of salt to begin with, and rightly so—the man is 38 years old and is a veteran of 37 fights over a 13-year period. 

That workload takes its toll on any man's body; now add in the fact that he has been knocked out five times, with the most recent being the most devastating.

Yeah, his career is dwindling. 

Franklin has just one fight left on his UFC contract, and right now it is anybody's guess as to whether "Ace" will re-sign with the promotion or drift into a happy retirement. 

Personally, I see just one more fight in Franklin's future, and the man deserves a big name to sing backup vocals during his swan song.

There is only one man with a sweet enough voice to compliment Franklin's stellar baritone melody, and that man is Mr. Michael Bisping. 

Settle down, settle down, I know what you're thinking: Bisping is ranked so much higher than Franklin, and he's already scheduled to face Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7!

Fair enough, my friends. You got me there. 

But (and this is a major but), if Bisping loses this contest, a matchup with Franklin is so perfect my mouth froths at the very idea of its creation. 

Both guys like to stand and bang but are adequate wherever a fight may go, both are huge names even among casual fans, both guys are in that awkward "I'm best suited at 195 pounds" weight class and both will be fighting for nothing more than the glory in a potential matchup.

If Bisping loses to Belfort on Jan. 19, a title shot is all but forgotten, and his career will wind down and set the scene for a fight with "Ace," a possibility he has already mentioned in the past. 

For Franklin, the fight makes sense because it gives him the opportunity to close his career against a well-known and respected fighter who would be honored to share the moment with him inside the historic Octagon.  

Sure, Bisping is abrasive, but he plays the heel (and he does so marvelously). Deep down, it is pretty obvious the dude cares about the sport, and he always gives his all inside the cage. 

Besides this, though, the fight is actually very winnable for Franklin. 

We have not seen the type of one-shot knockout power from Bisping that we have from Le, so Franklin should not worry about getting clipped and obliterated like he did in his most recent outing. 

On top of this, Bisping has a similarly suspect chin, and Franklin, despite his age, still hits pretty damn hard.

It is not a stretch to think that a nice left hand from "Ace" could end "The Count's" night early, and that makes the fight pretty tantalizing for Franklin's camp. 

What we have with Franklin vs. Bisping is a fight between two legendary UFC fighters who are slowly shutting off the lights in the locker rooms of their careers.

These men will reluctantly slip into retirement, and they deserve a proper war to ride out on. 

If Bisping fails to conquer Belfort at UFC on FX 7, this is the fight to make. It makes sense on both ends, and everybody involved emerges a winner.