Rich “Ace” Franklin is currently known as the ONE Championship vice president but at one time he was regarded as one of the greatest middleweights on the planet.
Franklin, a former middleweight titleholder, had a lengthy UFC run that included wins in over Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell, and Wanderlei Silva. He was one of those fighters who went back-and-forth between the 185 and 205 divisions. Yet that storied run of his is apparently not over as he has one fight left on his contract. In an interview with MMA Junkie, Franklin said he hopes to fulfill his contract, but it wouldn’t be easy to take time away from his duties from ONE.
“Honestly, it’s not going to be easy task for me when I’m spending several weeks over here at a time away from the schools where I train and my coaches and stuff.”
The fight would not likely take place anytime soon as he expects a busy year ahead of him.
It’s been awhile since Franklin stepped in the octagon. In November 2012, he suffered a knockout loss to Cung Le. Although he currently works for ONE, the former middleweight champion didn’t have a falling out with the UFC and I’m sure UFC President Dana White and ONE owner/CEO Victor Cui would let Franklin compete after working out some sort of agreement.
If everything comes together there are several potential opponents Franklin could face in his last foray in the octagon, including these five fighters. Although these competitors have fights scheduled, Franklin’s last UFC bout wouldn’t likely take place until 2016.
A fight with Henderson gives Franklin a chance to avenge an earlier career loss. In 2009, Hendo edged Franklin in the judges’ decision.
Henderson vs. Franklin II was proposed, but fans and critics shot down the idea. Henderson is scheduled to face Vitor Belfort in a rubber match.
Similar to Henderson, Franklin lost to Belfort in 2009. While Hendo went the distance with Franklin, “The Phenom” finished Ace in his triumphant return to the UFC. Belfort has been 6-3 since returning to the UFC, with those three losses in title fights.
Franklin vs. Belfort II may be different than the first bout. Belfort came out as a user of testosterone-replacement-therapy and with the UFC banning TRT, Franklin may do better this time around.
This would be a classic scenario of teacher vs. master – kind of.
Evans was a member of Team Franklin during the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Since that time, “Suga” has blazed his own path, even becoming light heavyweight champion. This would be the second time a “TUF” contestant has fought his coach – Tito Ortiz fought and dropped a decision to his former charge Matt Hamill in 2010.
This is a fight that could happen at either middleweight or light heavyweight. Both fighters are well-rounded, former champions and have a plethora of experience. Machida is also on a slump and a win over Franklin could give his career another boost.
This is a bout that almost happened. Franklin would have coached against Bisping in “TUF 9” had he defeated Henderson. A bout between Ace and “The Count” could main event a Fight Night or be put in the co-main event slot of a pay per view or Fox card. Both Bisping and Franklin have good striking, which could make this a good fight on the feet.
These are just five suggestions that I have. I’m sure there are plenty of hungry competitors at 185 and 205 who would love to add a legend like Franklin to their fight resume. Whoever the UFC chooses, hopefully, it’s someone who can give Franklin a proper sendoff and allow him to ride off into the sunset.