With Chael Sonnen vanquished, the next challenger to Anderson Silva's coveted middleweight belt is one of the hot topics in MMA. Yesterday Bloody Elbow told you about Silva's manager Jorge Guimaraes scoffed at the idea of fighting the likes of Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, or any other top contenders in either the UFC or Strikeforce. Today co-manager Ed Soares discussed with MMA Junkie who he would like to see the greatest middleweight of all-time fight, and one of the answers may surprise you:
Another name that Soares said fans are overlooking as a potential contender is former champ Rich Franklin
"The only guy that Rich Franklin has ever lost to at 185 pounds is Anderson," Soares said. "So when you look at the 185-pound division, he's definitely up in the mix as far as a contender. I think [Silva would] be interested in fighting Franklin again, just simply because he respects Rich a lot, and he feels that Rich was the guy that gave him the opportunity to fight for the belt."
But perhaps the most attractive fight on the market at this moment, Soares said, is a superfight with welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, which has been on the radar screen for more than a year as the two have continued to decimate their respective divisions.
Again, Soares stated that Silva vs. GSP, should it ever happen, would probably involve Silva dropping to 170 or agreeing at a catchweight in-between the two weight classes.
Personally I feel much of this is grandstanding nonsense from Soares. A Rich Franklin rubber match would be one of the most absurd things the UFC could possibly create. Franklin last fought at middleweight in 2008, and is 5-3 at various fights at LHW and three catchweight bouts since losing to Silva the 2nd time. I understand that Franklin's only MW losses are both to Anderson, but at 37 and having such an extended break from the division, it's highly unlikely Franklin is a contender at 185. If the UFC even had an inkling that Franklin could make one last push for the title, they wouldn't have originally scheduled him against Cung Le. And the first two fights between Silva and Franklin were so incredibly lopsided that it makes zero sense to even do a special 3rd fight as a non-title.
As for fighting Georges St. Pierre? I fear that ship has sailed. This fight has never been remotely close to being made and GSP is coming off over a year of inactivity due to injury. He still has the issue of fighting credible challengers in his division, including Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Martin Kampmann, and Jake Ellenberger. I certainly won't complain if GSP vs. Anderson becomes reality, but Soares' comment just reeks of classic manager rhetoric.