Rich Franklin’s knockout victory over Chuck Liddell at UFC 115 has given the former middleweight champion’s career a timely boost, particularly after he revealed that he had done so while suffering from a broken arm.

So what comes next for ‘Ace‘?

As we reported yesterday the first step is surgery for his broken arm.  He’ll be in a cast for at least eight weeks, but with his manager reporting that he’ll need a metal plate and screw inserted to bind his arm together, it could be up to 3 or 4 months before he’s back to normal.

That means that he’ll be looking to return sometime at the end of the year, perhaps in November of December.

So who should he be up against?

Though he’s not ruled out a fight back down at 185lbs or even a catchweight of 195lbs, it seems that Franklin is ready to stick at light-heavyweight for now, and as we’ve discussed in the past, there’s plenty of options in that particularly stacked weight class.  Let’s take a look at a few.

To my mind Randy Couture makes a lot of sense.  Since Franklin’s just retired one legend, it would be a nice angle for him to then go on to take on another like ‘The Natural’.

Timing wise it could also make sense since Couture’s next fight with James Toney is in August.  Assuming he does get the win in that bout then he’d have enough time to prepare to face Franklin at the end of the year.

There’s also the fact that Couture has already indicated earlier in the year that he would be interested in fighting him.

“A fight with Rich would be very intriguing,” Couture told Wisconsin Combat Sports in March.  “He’s one of my favorite guys and I have a lot of respect for Rich.  He’s a former champion and a great fighter.  There is a number of things that would be interesting with that fight.”

Another fighter that fits the bill would be Forrest Griffin.  He’s currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, and had suggested that he was targeting a late 2010 return to action.

To me this sounds like a well matched fight, although Rampage Jackson has also been calling for a rematch with Griffin and that is also appealing.  If that happened instead then that could leave Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as another potential opponent for Franklin.

Lyoto Machida is looking for a return later in the year making him a viable option, though it should be remembered that the Brazilian already holds a convincing win over Franklin dating back to 2003 in Japan.

I feel that a Franklin fight with Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is almost inevitable at some stage in the future, and if he beats Vladimir Matyushenko convincingly then the UFC may look to this bout as the next stepping stone, but I think they may give Bones another fight or two first.

As a final suggestion, Tito Ortiz claims he’s aiming to be back by the end of the year.  He wants to fight Liddell, but since it’s likely he’s now retired and Franklin took over from Ortiz on TUF they might see that as an excuse to put on this fight.

So who will it be?

I’d narrow it down to either Couture or Griffin.  Personally I’d be happy with either, but I think Franklin Vs Griffin would be more entertaining.  Dana White apparently agrees that it’s an appealing fight.  Here’s what he had to say last week in the build-up to the Franklin – Liddell fight.

“You know what I was thinking about doing, I was thinking about it could possibly him (Liddell) and Forrest too. So the winner of Rich Franklin vs. Chuck Liddell could fight Forrest Griffin.”