BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin (29-6 MMA, 14-5 UFC) has his eyes set on one more run to the top.
And while UFC officials have long downplayed the potential for "Ace" to get another crack at the title, Franklin is hoping his string of favors for the promotion has earned him a bit of leverage.
"That was my intention when I moved backs down to 185 (pounds)," Franklin told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) at Saturday night's post-event press conference. "I'm glad that you and probably everybody else notices that I've bailed the UFC out a lot. I hope that's going to pay off in the future at some point in time."
Franklin defeated Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 147, which took place at Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It wasn't as easy as the lopsided scores of 49-46 would indicate, but Franklin survived a second-round scare from "The Axe Murderer" and cruised to the clearcut win.
Of course, Franklin wasn't originally scheduled to fight at UFC 147. Instead, he was supposed to meet Cung Le two weeks later at UFC 148. But when Silva's original opponent, Vitor Belfort, was forced out of the card with an injury, the UFC turned to Franklin for help.
It's not the first time they've turned to Franklin for support. As recently as 2010, UFC officials asked him to replace an injured Tito Ortiz as both a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" and pay-per-view headliner.
Franklin's fight at UFC 147 did not actually take place at middleweight, as he asked for a few pounds extra due to the late change in plans, so he hasn't fought an official 185-pound fight since 2008. However, after largely denying his plans for quite some time, Franklin is now comfortable admitting he wants another crack at wrapping gold around his waist.
"Moving back down to 185, the idea was that enough time has passed since my title fight, and perhaps if I could put a couple of wins together, I could make another run at the title before I retire," Franklin said.
Franklin turns 38 years old in October. He won the UFC middleweight title in 2005 with a TKO victory over the late Evan Tanner. He defended the belt twice before surrendering it in 2006 to current champ Anderson Silva, who has since defended the title nine times, including a 2007 rematch with Franklin that forced the Ohio native to make a move to the light heavyweight division.
For complete coverage of UFC 147, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.