The biggest news to come out of Dana White's exceptionally over-hyped press conference today is signing of Vitor Belfort vs Rich Franklin to headline September's UFC 103 in Dallas.
Rumors have long swirled that Belfort would be returning to the UFC. Dana White openly spoke of his desire to bring Belfort over even before Affliction's collapse.
The match makes sense as a much needed headliner for UFC 103. Belfort has name value with UFC fans and the acquisition of Affliction's highlight reels gives them plenty of fresh "Phenom" to hype on Spike TV. A Rich Franklin vs Dan Henderson rematch was not only a fight few wanted to see, but it had the potential to mess up a Dan Henderson vs Anderson Silva rematch for the 185lb belt.
After Henderson's "Declaration of Hen-dependence" win over Bisping, there is a good deal of marketability in that fight.
Meanwhile, Rich Franklin is doing just what they said they didn't want him to do -- serving as a gatekeeper for Anderson Silva's 185lb belt. Henderson passed the test -- even though he fought Franklin at 205lbs. Wanderlei Silva didn't quite pass the test -- at 195lbs -- but he did well enough to stay on the fringes of contention. Now Belfort, who turned down a 205lb match with Gegard Mousasi at Affliction: Trilogy will move back up to his old fighting weight, presumably just for this one fight. And if Vitor KTFO's Rich Franklin, we can expect a title shot at 185lbs to be in his future.
Even if he loses, unless Franklin destroys him, a rematch with Wanderlei Silva likely looms as a very marketable "senior circuit" match for Belfort.
It makes sense that the fight would be at 205lbs since Franklin has been preparing for a light heavyweight fight and its relatively short notice. Its easier for Belfort to not cut weight than for Franklin to shave off the muscle he's been putting on. Even when he was fighting at 185lbs regularly, Franklin was undergoing notoriously brutal cuts to make weight.
UPDATE: From Rich Franklin's Twitter feed:
Just found out i will b fighting vitor at a catch weight of 195 as per his request.
This makes sense given Vitor's refusal to fight Mousasi at 205lbs. More confirmation that Rich Franklin is the gatekeeper of the middleweight division. And hey, if he's headlining PPVs and putting on great fights, there's no shame in that.