Rich Franklin is on the Mend Josh Davis May 23, 2011 News Rich Franklin received excellent news from his doctor yesterday. He was told that surgery would not be required to fix the broken left arm that he suffered in his knockout victory over Chuck Liddell at UFC 115. Rich’s manager J.T. Stewart told MMAJunkie.com in an interview yesterday that the doctors removed the long cast (which will be raffled off to benefit the Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure charity. Details can be found on Rich’s website www.americanfighter.com.) and placed him in a shorter forearm cast. While Rich is still not able to lift any kind of weights or do any kind of training, a December or January return is expected. So that begs the question: who is Rich going to fight next? Rich is 2-2 in his last four fights with wins over Chuck Lidell and Wanderlei Silva and losses to Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort. Many critics believe that Franklin’s best days are behind him and the possibility of him returning to title contention is very slim. However, I must say that I disagree with the critics. Franklin might not be the fighter that he once was but he certainly has not dropped to gate keeper status. Franklin did not look good when he fought Vitor but Franklin himself has admitted that he lost that fight long before he ever stepped in the cage. Franklin’s fight with Henderson could have gone either way and many people believe that he should have won the decision. Franklin easily could be 3-1 in his last four fights and his story would be completely different. Franklin has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to make a run at the light heavy weight title (if he accomplishes this goal he would be only the third man in UFC history to hold titles in two different weight classes). So who should match maker Joe Silva set Rich up against in his next fight? If Rich is going to return to title contention he is going to need to fight the best guys available. With that in mind, Rich should be fighting someone like Lyoto Machida or Rampage Jackson (as long as they do not sign to fight each other) and if a fight with one of those two does not work it out then he needs to fight Thiago Silva if he defeats Tim Boestsch. While his win over Chuck Lidell has moved Rich in the right direction, it is still not a big enough win to put Rich in the hunt and without a win over a top level opponent like the ones mentioned Rich will not be able to wear championship gold again. Personally, I’d like to see Rich get a rematch with Lyoto Machida (Machida defeated Franklin in 2003 outside of the UFC) in December or January. This would be good for both fighters. If Machida wins he is in position for a fight with the winner of Rashad Evans vs Shogun and if Rich wins he could be one fight away from another title shot.