In a surprising matchup, middleweight contender Dan Henderson and light heavyweight contender Rich Franklin will meet in the main event of UFC 103 on September 19 in Dallas in a rematch of their January UFC 93 meeting, which saw Henderson top Franklin by split decision.
The UFC announced the bout on Monday and also confirmed the rumored UFC 103 co-headliner between veteran heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and up-and-comer Junior dos Santos.
Henderson, who knocked out Michael Bisping earlier this month at UFC 100, was expected to get the next title shot against middleweight king Anderson Silva, while Franklin was rumored to headline UFC 103, possibly against a returning Tito Ortiz or Luiz Cane.
Though the first meeting between the pair was far from boring, it was also nowhere near a “Fight of the Year” candidate, prompting immediate questions as to why the UFC would book the popular fighters to square off again so quickly, not to mention that it effectively guarantees a loss for one of the contenders, who are now competing in separate divisions.
Henderson (25-7) has won 3-straight bouts over Rousimar Palhares, Franklin, and Bisping after dropping back-to-back fights to Quinton Jackson and Silva upon his return to the UFC in 2007.
Since losing a rematch to current middleweight title-holder Anderson Silva in October 2007, Franklin (25-4) has won 3 of his last 4 bouts, losing only to Henderson while picking up victories over Travis Lutter, Matt Hamill, and, most-recently in June, Wanderlei Silva. The announcement of the rematch likely means that Franklin has finalized his contract extension with the promotion.
[Pictured: Dan Henderson]