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Rich Franklin Biography

MMA Biography: Rich Franklin

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Rich Franklin is a former UFC Middleweight Champion. He is one of the better middleweights to come around in the early years of the UFC and was a pivotal fighter at a time when MMA was becoming a top attraction. With the vast majority of his fights ending inside the distance, Franklin was consistently one of the sport’s more exciting and versatile performers.

“Ace” didn’t get the typical start to his career. He was a college kid, first earning a bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s in education from the University of Cincinnati--his hometown. He became a math teacher and few could have predicted then that he would soon be one of the UFC’s most popular figures.

Franklin made his professional MMA debut at the age of 24 in 1999 and scored a knockout in a mere 24 seconds of the first round. In fact, Franklin would not taste defeat until almost 5 years into his professional career. He began appearing in the midwest on local shows, eventually moving into bigger fights. Before joining the UFC, Franklin beat noted fighters like Travis Fulton and Marvin Eastman.

The unbeaten Franklin joined the UFC in 2003, knocking out future UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner in the first round. After two more wins, he traveled to Japan to fight in an Inoki organization fight and lost by TKO to future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida in the second round.

As the UFC emerged out of the shadows, Franklin began to make his presence felt. In fact, after losing to Machida, Franklin would peel off 8 straight victories, cementing his name in the UFC record books in the process. After scoring wins over veterans Jorge Rivera and Ken Shamrock, Franklin fixed his sights on former victim--Evan Tanner.

Franklin stopped Tanner in the 4th round to earn the UFC Middleweight Title. Based on that victory, he was chosen along with Matt Hughes as coaches on the wildly popular TV show The Ultimate Fighter, season two, further increasing Franklin’s profile. IN UFC 56, Franklin faced former TUF season one cast member Nate Quarry. The vicious first-round knockout Franklin scored was highlight-reel fodder. A decision win over David Loiseau gave Franklin his second defense.

Then a very bad thing happened to Franklin and the rest of the middleweights in the UFC--Anderson Silva came to prominence, putting a stranglehold on the title that would last for years. Silva’s vicious knees brought an end to Franklin’s reign in the first round. Franklin rebounded with two wins over Jason McDonald and Yushin Okami, setting up the table for a rematch with Silva. Though he lasted longer in the second match, the result would be the same.


Undaunted, Franklin continued winning. A pair of TKO wins, over Travis Lutter and Matt Hamill helped “Ace” restore some confidence, as Franklin began pursuing opportunities in higher weights. But starting with his fight with Dan Henderson in January 2009, Franklin would go on a pattern of alternating wins and losses.

Franklin lost a close one to Henderson, but came back to beat Wanderlei Silva. He then lost in a first-round knockout to Vitor Belfort in one of his worst outings. But he made up for it in his next fight, with a highlight-reel knockout over Chuck Liddell. In February 2011, Franklin lost a disappointing 3-round decision to Forrest Griffin.

A series of fall-outs kept Franklin on the shelf for an agonizing 17 months. He finally resurfaced in UFC 147, taking on local favorite Wanderlei Silva. In a good fight that showed Franklin could still entertain with the best of them, he won a unanimous 5-round decision over Silva--giving his career a much-needed gust of wind. A first-round KO loss to Cung Le in 2012 brought an end to Franklin’s run as a serious contender.

Though Franklin eventually grew stale, as all aging fighters eventually do, he always acquitted himself with consummate professionalism. It’s not often that anyone saw him in anything resembling bad shape. Over the years, he has consistently been one of the UFC’s most compelling performers. He often received the Knockout or Fight of the Night honors and thrilled MMA fans the world wide. His legacy is secure.

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