Former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin drops back down to 185 pounds to face one-time Strikeforce titleholder Cung Le at UFC 148: “Cruz vs Faber 3” on July 7th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Verbal agreements are in place for the bout, which was announced by UFC officials this evening.
Franklin has been inactive since a February 2011 decision loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 126. He had won four of his past six prior to the setback. Le made his Octagon debut against former PRIDE champion Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva at UFC 139, but he was stopped late in round two.
Franklin (28-6-0, 1 NC) has encountered mixed success since his second defeat to current UFC champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva in 2007. In recent bouts, Franklin moved back up in weight to his former home in the light heavyweight division, but he now returns to 185 pounds for another run at title contendership. An impressive 25 of Franklin’s 28 victories have come by knockout or submission and he posted one of his biggest wins to date in his second-most recent fight when he brutally knocked out Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell at UFC 115.
Le (7-2-0) became a star in Strikeforce after knocking out his first five opponents. The impressive streak propelled the San Shou striker into a Strikeforce Middleweight Championship bout with Frank Shamrock in March 2008. Le broke Shamrock’s arm with a kick and captured the title when Shamrock was unable to continue. Le’s interests waned, however, and after a lengthy layoff while pursuing a movie career, he was knocked out by Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith in late 2009. Le avenged the loss in a rematch, but fell short in his UFC debut against Silva despite a solid first round.
With both fighters in must-win situations, the bout between Franklin and Le will be a pivotal one on the July card. Franklin may hold the edge on the ground, but he will have to avoid the vast array of kicks and spinning strikes in Le’s arsenal.
UFC 148: “Cruz vs Faber 3” takes place on July 7th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event is headlined by a UFC Bantamweight Championship trilogy bout between Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz and “The California Kid” Urijah Faber.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)