Matt Erickson of MMAFighting.com learned of the match up earlier today, while Mike Chiappetta confirmed that the two fan favorites are expected to meet on February 5, Super Bowl Saturday.
Griffin has been noticeably absent from the Octagon, having not fought since UFC 106, where he picked up a split decision victory over Tito Ortiz. The bout was his first since being decimated by Anderson Silva at UFC 101 in August of 2009. Prior to that fight, Griffin was defeated by Rashad Evans at UFC 92, losing his 205-pound championship belt. He was expected to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114, but a shoulder injury forced the original “Ultimate Fighter” winner out of the bout.
While Griffin comes off of a lengthy layoff for this fight, Franklin did the same when he met Chuck Liddell in the main event of UFC 115 this past June. Franklin knocked out Liddell in the waning moments of the opening frame, successfully rebounding from his knockout loss to Vitor Belfort at UFC 103 nearly nine months prior. Franklin has opted to focus on fighting at the 205-pound mark after a successful run at middleweight, in which he held the title for some time.
In all likelihood, the bout will serve as the co-main event of the evening, while a middleweight title bout between champion Anderson Silva and top contender Vitor Belfort is rumored to serve as the main event. A light heavyweight tilt between rising contenders Ryan Bader and Jon Jones is also expected to make the February card, which is set for the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada the evening before Super Bowl Sunday.
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