Rich ‘Ace’ Franklin is back where he belongs. After a long spell out through injury word has finally emerged on his next fight, and it turns out it will see the former middleweight champion move back down to 185lbs for the first time since April of 2008.

The UFC have announced that Franklin’s first fight back will be against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le at UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7th.

Le made his debut in the UFC back in November, putting on a good early showing against Wanderlei Silva before a spirited comeback from the Brazilian resulted in Le being TKO’d late in the second round.

At the time there was a doubt over whether the 39 year-old would return to the Octagon, but he later revealed that he still desired to compete again, and he’s been rewarded by another big fight that is sure to capture MMA fan’s imagination.

Overall, this sounds like a good bit of match-making, but more importantly it’s great to see Franklin being given the chance to shine again in the weight class that made him a star.

Let’s not forget that at 185lbs he’s lost just twice in his career, and both of those came against the world’s best fighter, Anderson Silva who’s not let go of the middleweight title since he first defeated him back in 2006.

Since then Franklin has hinted that the UFC encouraged him to move up in the weight since a third shot at Silva was out of the question, and the reality is that he’s undersized for the light-heavyweight division as was most easily seen in his last fight, a loss to Forrest Griffin in which he spent most of the three rounds being pinned down by the much bigger man.

That’s not to say he hasn’t had his moments though – stopping Matt Hamill with a body kick and infamously KO’ing Chuck Liddell despite suffering a broken arm early in the fight.

Unfortunately he has been plagued with injuries in recent times which has lead to him fighting just once a year, and at the age of 37 he’s now in the twilight of his career so there’s no guarantee that he can make a big impact in the weight class as he has done in years gone by, but he’s certainly got a fighting chance.

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