By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Rich Franklin officially makes his return to the middleweight division this Saturday, taking on Cung Le in Macao, China at UFC on Fuel 6. The former champion of the division hasn't competed at 185 lbs. since April of 2008, and though he's still hoping to move towards another title fight before his career is over, that's not on his mind into this weekend.
"I have a fight against Cung and I don't really think beyond that fight," Franklin said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. "I don't think about title shots, this and that, and I don't think, well, if I win or if I lose. I never put the possibility of 'if I lose' in my head because if you do that you're automatically opening yourself up to a loss, and once you do that, you've lost the fight."
"I have to be motivated to beat Cung and that's it. I have Cung on November 10th, and it doesn't matter what comes after that, and it's not important. What's important right now is winning that fight because if I didn't win that fight those opportunities aren't going to come anyways. It doesn't matter whether I'd be motivated by them or not."
Franklin's not bothering with title shot talk, because he doesn't believe that's in line after this fight anyway. So for now, he's concentrating simply on moving in the right direction.
"I don't believe the UFC, I don't believe they're going to give me a title fight after this," Franklin said. "I believe there's going to be another step in that process, and I don't know who that would be, if it would be somebody like a [Michael] Bisping, or something like that, but winning a fight always puts you in the right direction."
"I still don't think the UFC is interested in doing a Franklin-Silva 3."
Penick's Analysis: There really isn't any interest from the UFC, and likely fans, in seeing a third fight between Franklin and Anderson Silva. Still, there is the potential that Silva walks away in the next two years, and if Franklin is still around winning fights, he could eventually get to one last title fight. But he's right that he can't concentrate on that or even have that on his mind into this fight. He needs to be entirely prepared for each of his next number of fights, and looking ahead is never the answer for that.
[Rich Franklin art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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