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Rich “Ace” Franklin has been in the octagon with the best the sports has to offer. On Saturday he will add yet another impressive name to his growing resume. 26-5, with the majority of those fights in the UFC, is quite an accomplishment in its own right, but then you take a look at his competition. Since debuting in the UFC back in 2003 with a TKO victory over Evan Tanner, Franklin has gone on to fight Lyoto Machida (not in UFC), Ken Shamrock, Anderson Silva (twice), Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, and coming up at UFC 115, Chuck Liddell.
Franklin may very well have put himself on the map with his TKO win against Ken Shamrock back on The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, a card that thrust the UFC into the main stream with the Forrest Griffin vs. Stephen Bonnar fight. Many casual fight fans tuned in to the event, knowing who Shamrock was, but they may not have been familiar with Franklin. Well “Ace” introduced himself to all those watching on free TV that night as he beat the Hall of Famer in the 1st round. In his next fight he captured UFC Gold by beating Tanner once again. Franklin then defended the UFC Middleweight Title twice, over Nate Quarry and David Loiseau.
Things were going really well for Franklin, he was riding an 8 fight win streak and had held the 185 pound belt for over a year. But then Anderson Silva showed up. We all know what happened. It was just Franklin’s 2nd career loss, and it came in devastating fashion. He would earn another shot at the belt following wins over Jason MacDonald and Yushin Okami, but it was more of the same in the rematch with Silva.
After a victory over Travis Lutter, Franklin decided to make the move up to Light Heavyweight, a 20 pound increase from Middleweight, and the weight class in which he defeated Ken Shamrock. In his first fight back at 205, Franklin stopped Matt Hamill in the 3rd round with a kick to the liver. His next challenge would be a guy who had already mastered two different divisions, something Franklin was looking to do.
Dan Henderson held two belts simultaneously while in PRIDE. He lost them both when coming over to the UFC, but a match up with Franklin at 205 was still intriguing and was the headline at UFC 93 in Ireland. Hendo took a controversial split decision over Franklin, many still believe Rich won the fight. Ace would continue to battle PRIDE legends in his next two fights, both at a catchweight of 195. He defeated Wanderlei Silva by unanimous decision before suffering a TKO loss to Vitor Belfort in September of 2009, which would be his last fight.
After nearly 9 months off, that included hernia surgery, Franklin gets back in the cage in the main event at UFC 115 in Vancouver this Saturday night against UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell. Ace is no stranger to main events or squaring off with legends. He hasn’t beat them all, in fact he’s 1-2 in his last 3 fights, 3-3 in his past 6, and 5-4 since beginning his career 21-1, but you can always count on Franklin to bring it and his fights are never boring.
I like Franklin to get back to his winning ways this weekend. You can see how we all picked the Main Card for UFC 115 later this week in our event preview on BostonThrowdown.com