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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
After Cung Le defeated Patrick Cote earlier this month, the UFC made it clear they'd like to put Le on their November event in Macau, the special administrative region of China that will serve as the UFC's second event in Asia in 2012.
They've got an opponent in mind for him on that card as well, provided Le is able to return by then. According to UFC President Dana White, who commented on the matter on Thursday at the UFC 149 pre-fight press conference, the UFC wants to put Le against Rich Franklin on the Nov. 10 event, which will air on Fuel TV in the U.S.
The two were originally scheduled to fight on the UFC 148 card where Le defeated Cote, but an injury to Vitor Belfort resulted in the UFC needing an opponent for Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147. They pulled Franklin from the bout with Le, and he defeated Silva by decision on the June event in Brazil.
The booking would be contingent on Le's health checking out, as he was banged up a bit following the bout with Cote. It would also hinge on Franklin's willingness to drop down to a Fuel TV card after headlining a pay-per-view event.
Penick's Analysis: It would be an odd booking for one reason: it's on Fuel TV. In Franklin's 19 fights in the UFC, only one has been on free television. The former UFC Middleweight Champion has been on pay-per-view in the rest of his bouts in the organization, and he just stepped in on short notice to headline another for the UFC. He's been a company man through and through, but now he hopes to get some positive energy back his way as he eyes one more run at a Middleweight Title shot. The Le fight made sense to get him back to the middleweight division, and as an interesting fight on a packed card. Headlining a Fuel event would immediately make it the biggest Fuel TV headliner the UFC has had, but it wouldn't necessarily make sense for Franklin to take that fight where the least viewership the UFC gets is guaranteed, when he would have been on a card getting a million buys at UFC 148.
[Rich Franklin art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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