It’s been well over a year since we last saw former UFC champion Rich Franklin inside the Octagon after “Ace” had surgery to delay a planned fight. Now, with his recovery time nearly complete, Franklin has both a date and opponent set for his return –  July 7 at UFC 148 against Cung Le.

UFC officials confirmed the fight late Sunday night.

The 28-6 Franklin last fought in February of 2011, suffering a defeat against fellow ex-champion Forrest Griffin. He was expected to battle Antonio Rogerio Nogueira late last year but was forced to the operating table to repair shoulder damage he sustained while training for the match-up.

Le is also a former champion albeit one in Strikeforce. However, the scintillating striker was handed a loss – and a broken nose – in his UFC debut against Wanderlei Silva.

The bout will be part of a card including Dominick Cruz defending his bantamweight title against Urijah Faber. The two are currently coaching opposite one another on the Ultimate Fighter 15.


MMATraining Take: While Octagon-rust will likely surface for Franklin, this is a good return match up for him. His overall abilities should allow him to control the action against Le, but he will have to be on the defense in terms of leg-kicks, as Le is great at those.