Everybody is rightly focusing on Chuck Liddell, but UFC 88 also featured Rich Franklin's dismantling of Matt Hamill. Rich took Hamill apart, beating him from almost every position, and unloading the kind of accurate combinations we haven't seen out of him in a long time.
Kid Nate argued that Rich should stay at 185, and while I appreciate his view, I just can't agree. The difference between the Rich we saw last night and the Rich we saw against Lutter was motivation. He looked excited to be fighting, excited to be embarking on a new path. He now has a lot of interesting options in front of him, including fights against the winner of Jardine/Vera, Shogun, Chuck, and others. Battling to cement his spot as the number two middleweight in the world just isn't enough to excite Rich Franklin, and I can't blame him.
People underestimate the importance of motivation in fighting. If you can't get excited about your next fight, the performance will show it. Look how different Chuck looked against Wanderlei Silva compared to the way he looked against Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine. I refuse to believe that it is completely unrelated to a lack of excitement on Chuck's end about the fights with Greg Jackson's guys. Similarly, BJ Penn needs to fight GSP to keep himself motivated. I have no doubt that if he spent a year fighting the Kenny Florians and Mac Danzigs of the world, he would eventually lose due to a lack of motivation. I cannot begrudge fighters for taking the path that keeps them interested in their own careers.
Personally, I'd like to see Franklin fight the returning Shogun in December. It's a big fight for both men, and I see no reason to feed either of them an easy fight at this point. If Franklin wins, he will find himself a fight or two away from a title shot. If Shogun wins, he's right back in the mix of things as well.
Really, when you look at the top contenders at 205, the only one I think Franklin would really have a nightmare of a time beating is Quinton Jackson. Can anyone really say Franklin doesn't have a chance against Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evans? Frankly I'd bet on him against either of the two.