Rich Franklin “100-percent wholeheartedly” believes a third time could be the charm against Anderson Silva.
The former UFC middleweight champ, who turns 40 in October, is still in search of an opponent to finish out the final bout on his UFC contract. But he isn’t looking to exit quietly with a meaningless win over a mediocre name.
Careful how we word this because I never said I wanted to fight Anderson for a rubber match. I think a rubber match is typically defined as when there are two fighters who have fought each other and one won one fight and the other one won the other fight. Technically, I lost both of those fights, which means that rubber match would still put me at, if I won that fight, a 1-2 record against Anderson.
Would I fight Anderson a third time? Absolutely. Is it because I feel like I have some unfinished business? Not at all. It's just, in my mind as a champion and to have the mentality of a champion, I 100% wholeheartedly believe that I can beat Anderson in a fight, not just Anderson but anybody.
It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly a decade since Silva waltzed into the UFC, defeating Chris Leben en route to a title shot with Franklin.
The initial reaction of the fight was outrage from fans, who were convinced Silva hadn’t done nearly enough to warrant a UFC title shot. How does knocking out Leben justify an immediate shot at one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world?
All of the questions and outrage were met with an emphatic first-round TKO in October of 2006, as Silva laid waste to the UFC’s beloved champion. Franklin would quickly dust off the cobwebs, rack up a couple of victories and earn a second shot at Silva in front of his hometown fans in Cincinnati, Ohio the following year.
It was once again in October, Franklin’s birth month, when the tides of fate yielded for Silva, who scored another TKO win over the former champ. After the loss, Franklin floated between middleweight and light heavyweight, taking whatever fight piqued his interest. There was never any true itinerary for Franklin after losing to Silva.
After defeating Franklin, Silva went on to rule the middleweight division and become arguably the greatest fighter of all time. The intent of vengeance may not lie in Franklin’s heart, but you would be hard-pressed to believe that his mind is void of “what ifs.”
What if he defeated Silva in that first fight? How different would his career look today?
“It wouldn't be for any reason like redemption or vengeance or retribution or any other kinda cool word that we've seen on a UFC poster before, but yeah I would fight him and I believe I could beat him,” said Franklin.
The timing couldn’t be any more perfect for this bout to come to fruition.
Silva is still undergoing rehabilitation for the gruesome leg injury he suffered at the hands of current UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman in December last year. Despite mounting skepticism of his return, Silva is hell-bent on making a full recovery and resuming his MMA career.
Franklin is obviously comfortable waiting on the sidelines for the perfect opponent. During an appearance on Inside MMA, he revealed that he will most likely retire from MMA after fulfilling the final fight on his UFC contract.
It seems like Franklin has one final “Ace” up his sleeve before riding off into the sunset and calling it a career.