Rich Franklin: Fourteen Years On From Winning UFC Title

Fourteen years ago, Rich Franklin won the UFC middleweight title, defeating Evan Tanner at UFC 53. The former maths teacher would go on to defend his title twice, before losing to Anderson Silva.

Not only was Franklin a UFC champion, he was also one of the biggest names in the sport. He was both loved and respected by everyone in the MMA world. Which is no easy feat.

A feat which is all the more difficult today in the UFC. Something Franklin is fully aware of. When asked by MMA Fighting if he would have been as big a star in the UFC now, as he was in his day, the 44 year old said he didn’t think he would have been.

“The way I conducted myself then, no. I would have had to conduct myself in a different manner. I look at times when I could have done quote-unquote trash talk. And there’s a respectful way to create hype around a match. You don’t have to be disrespectful to people. You don’t have to talk about their families or be blatantly rude or whatever, shoving people on stage. There are ways to create hype around a match. I would have to reassess how I would market myself, I guess.”

Franklin is now a Vice-President at ONE Championship. An organisation that strongly believes in the core values, that ‘Ace’ showed throughout his career. Namely discipline, integrity, humility, courage, respect, honour and compassion. So you could say that Franklin and ONE are the perfect fit.

Although the former UFC champion hasn’t fought since 2012, when he lost to Cung Le in Macau, China, he has never completely ruled out fighting again. Though he says it is unlikely and the longer time goes on, the even more less likely it becomes.

With Vitor Belfort joining ONE earlier this year, talk of Rich fighting again has increased. The two fought previously ten years ago, when Belfort won via TKO at UFC 103. Franklin is perfectly aware of that the fans are talking about a possible rematch.

“The more I entertain this conversation, the more it’s going to start a whole bunch of chatter. But everybody has talked about that with me being an executive with ONE and him being a fighter now in the organisation.”

Although it looks like there’s only a tiny chance we’ll see Franklin vs Belfort 2, the ONE VP isn’t ruling it out completely.

“If the stars align, anything is possible.”

It was announced last week at UFC 236 that Rich Franklin would be inducted to the UFC Hall Of Fame this summer, as part of the UFC’s International Fight Week, in the lead up to UFC 239 on July 6th.


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