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Old 07-02-2008, 08:13 AM
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Default Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill on tap for UFC 88

Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill on tap for UFC 88 | MMAjunkie.com


by Dann Stupp on Jul 01, 2008 at 8:55 pm ET

Rich Franklin (23-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) will move to the UFC's light heavyweight division to fight Matt Hamill (4-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) at UFC 88 in September.

On Monday MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com) first reported that Franklin had been tapped for the Sept. 6 event, and today, we learned from sources close to both fighters that bout agreements have been distributed and are expected to be finalized this week.

The fight was first reported earlier today by MMARated.com.

UFC 88, which features a main event between Chuck Liddell and Rashad Evans, takes place at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. The Franklin-Hamill fight will likely be the night's co-main event.

Franklin, a former UFC middleweight champ, has been fighting in the 185-pound class but had already lost twice to current title-holder Anderson Silva. As we reported yesterday, he had been approached about moving up a fight class to create some new fight opportunities.

Hamill, who is a fellow Cincinnati-area native like Franklin, provides just that.

Hamill, an MMA newcomer who found his way into the UFC via the third season of "The Ultimate Fighter," was forced out of the competition due to injury. Since then, though, he's racked up a 4-1 record -- with his only loss being a very controversial split-decision defeat to Michael Bisping at a UFC 75 event in Bisping's home country.

Most recently, Hamill defeated Tim Boetsch via second-round TKO.

Meanwhile, outside of those losses to Silva, Franklin is 11-0 with 10 stoppages in his past 11 fights. He most recently scored a second-round TKO of Travis Lutter at UFC 83.

Franklin last competed at 205 pounds at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale in April 2005. He called it a "special case" since the first-ever Spike TV broadcast would reach millions of viewers and could catapult his popularity.

His move is not necessarily permanent, according to a source close to Franklin.

Worth noting is that Franklin and Hamill are both prominent sponsored athletes of American Fighter. The apparel company sponsors some of the MMA's top fighters -- including Rashad Evans, Marcus Davis, Keith Jardine and Tim Sylvia -- and fights between the competitors had been considered unlikely.
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