For Rich Franklin, his fight with Cung Le on the first Chinese card was historic. Unfortunately, so was the knockout he suffered at the hands of Le in the first round.
Franklin looked to be getting comfortable in the first round in his striking, finding a rhythm on the unorthodox Vietnamese-American. But with only one punch, Le nailed Franklin right on the button to put his lights out before he hit the ground.
It was a devastating knockout loss for Franklin, who had recently been seeing a career resurgence.
As for what's next for Franklin, it's tough to tell at this point. One could argue retirement, but I still think he has gas left in the tank.
At this point in his career, Franklin is more a novelty fighter and will only fight big names. I would assume he'll stay away from the middleweight division, as he will probably never get another title shot, and it is a tough weight cut for him.
If he did stay in the middleweight division, I think fights against Mark Munoz or Jake Shields would be good bouts for him to take. Both are big names on the rebound from recent setbacks. Munoz lost via knockout to Chris Weidman in his last bout, while Shields is currently suspended for using a banned substance at UFC 150.
Should he return to the light heavyweight or take special feature catchweight bouts, I would love to see him eventually square off with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or Quinton Jackson down the road. Currently, Nogueira is tied to a fight with Rashad Evans for Super Bowl weekend of 2013, while Jackson is on the last fight of his UFC contract, fighting in January against Glover Teixeira.
The UFC should throw some money at Jackson to take a superfight with the former middleweight champion Franklin to see which veteran is the better man. It would be a fun fight that would draw much fan attention.
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