The UFC announced its intentions to return to the Queen City May 10.
Fans would love to see Ace perform one more time, and since he has already stated he is calling it quits, this is the event where it makes the most sense to book it. Win or lose, the crowd will send Franklin out the right way—with a standing ovation.
The question comes to be: Who should he fight?
A prospect that has the opportunity to make his name by beating Franklin? Or perhaps another aging athlete? Each option has its pros and cons for the UFC. Regardless, it will be nice to watch the former UFC middleweight champion one more time.
Franklin is not the only local fighter who should be on the card. Here are five more UFC fighters who should be eyed for the Fight Night card in Ohio.
Matt Brown is an Ohio native, and his rise has been an unexpected surprise in the welterweight division. Unfortunately, he has been sidelined with an injury.
If he is healthy in time for the May event in Cincinnati, then he should most definitely be on this card.
There are not too many quality options in terms of opponents for Brown. UFC 171 features most of the top-tier welterweights that Brown would otherwise be matched up against. That would be the only reason to keep Brown off the card.
While that puts the UFC in a tough spot, it should still attempt to put Brown on this card. He is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, and he will help draw interest for the Fox Sports 1 broadcast.
Jessica Eye came up just a bit short against Alexis Davis at UFC 170, but she left the cage without a mark on her. She is healthy and already in shape. She would be a great addition to the card.
Eye is exceptionally proud of her home state, and there is little question that she would love to fight in front of the Cincinnati crowd.
Due to the UFC 170 loss, the UFC actually has more options for her next opponent.
The Cleveland native is an exciting fighter who loves to stand and exchange. Her bout would make a lot of sense for the opening match on the main card. It would set the tone for the night and put the crowd on its feet.
Eye needs to be in Cincinnati in May.
Matt Mitrione will be in action this Saturday in Macau, but win or lose, he should be put on the Cincinnati card—barring injury.
Mitrione is a heavyweight who goes after it, and since he is not in any sort of contention even with a win at The Ultimate Fighter: China finale, he makes a good addition to the undercard.
Fans love heavyweight action. The UFC can give the fans what they want with an exciting heavyweight scrap.
Mitrione is a Purdue alumnus. He will have plenty of local support in Cincinnati, and he can draw in some Indiana residents to the live show to assist with ticket sales.
The Cleveland heavyweight, Stipe Miocic, will most likely not be on the card. He is a top-10 heavyweight who was just called out by Junior Dos Santos.
However, should the fight with Dos Santos not go down, he would make one of the best additions to the card.
Miocic has some of the best hands in the division and is on a two-fight win streak. The UFC does not need to force him into a bout against top-five competition right now. The division is virtually on hold with Cain Velasquez's injury, and Travis Browne will meet Fabricio Werdum to determine the next title challenger.
There is nothing to gain from rushing Miocic into a top-level fight. Allow him to showcase his skills against a fighter outside of the top 10 in Cincinnati. The UFC should continue his slow build so that there may be another interesting heavyweight come 2015.
At this point, you may be thinking to yourself, “There is no way the UFC puts this many names on this Fox Sports 1 card.”
You may be right, but it is important to note that most of these names are not at the top of their divisions.
Gray Maynard is the perfect example.
He is a longtime UFC veteran, but he has recently fallen on hard times. As a Ohioan, he makes a solid addition to the card from a ticket sales perspective, but his inclusion does not hurt the lightweight division.
His inclusion on the card can be used to help get him back on the right track or to put him against a prospect with top-10 hopes.
With Maynard and the others on the card from the region, it helps with local interest. Friends, families and fans will make the trek to Cincinnati and purchase live event tickets. Viewers at home will be more likely to tune in with a stacked main card of names they recognize, too.