The 34-year-old former middleweight champ of the UFC, Rich Franklin has completely abandoned the 185-pound class and moved up to the world of the 205-pounders. Gone and forgotten are the memories of Franklin the dominant middleweight champion; most fans' memories of Franklin are those of him laying broken at the feet of Anderson Silva.
The move was not an easy choice for Franklin, as seen clearly in this quote, courtesy of Sherdog:
“The UFC came to me, and, basically, they weren’t interested in another Anderson Silva-Rich Franklin fight, and it isn’t good business for me to fight the top contenders,” Franklin said. “If I keep winning, I could eliminate possible title fights, so I’d end up being a gatekeeper at 185; that’s why I chose to move up to 205.”
Franklin is working very hard at his Team Extreme to gain quality weight to be a legitimate 205 pounds and not give up any cardio or speed advantages. Franklin has always been a the very definition of a mixed martial artist, with outstanding stand-up, excellent wrestling/ground and pound, and accomplished skill in submissions.
Franklin's only losses have come against truly elite fighters in Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, and he has a chances to be a real contender in the light heavyweight division. His first fight was impressive defeat of elite wrestler Matt Hamill and his second fight is against another elite grappler and victim of Anderson Sliva, former PRIDE light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson.
Franklin's standing in the 205-pound division will be much clearer after this fight; if he wins, Franklin will become a legit contender for the belt and will likely have to face a larger opponent before getting a title shot. If he loses, I fear Franklin's loses to Silva, combined with what will be seen as a failed transition to another weight class, may end up making Franklin a gatekeeper after all.