Former UFC middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin has announced that he is closing the chapter on his fighting career. Franklin made his decision public in a piece he wrote on The Players’ Tribune.
Franklin was last seen inside the octagon back in November of 2012. Like he did many times in his career, Franklin was part of the night’s main event. He lost to Cung Le via a first round knockout. He took a break from fighting but had stated in recent interviews that he had the desire to come back and compete.
Franklin made his professional MMA debut in 1999 and won the bout via a first round head kick knockout. He eventually made his way to the UFC and had his first bout with the organization in 2003 at UFC 42. “Ace” was one of the first breakout stars in the UFC under the Zuffa umbrella and helped push the sport and organization into the public’s eye.
“I was fortunate enough to begin my career in the UFC when MMA was on the precipice of popularity in the U.S. We spent endless hours traveling to do PR and conduct interviews preaching the gospel of MMA. One by one, we watched state athletic commissions legalize MMA, and we began the process in other countries. It came in handy having a former high school math teacher as one of your champions. I had the privilege of fighting in eight different countries.”
Two years after his debut, he won the UFC’s middleweight championship and would successfully defend it two times before losing the title to Anderson Silva. After losing to Silva a second time, Franklin would jump up to the light heavyweight division and even competed in several catch-weight bouts. He would not reach the top of the contender’s list again but his popularity allowed him to participate in main events for many UFC cards.
He finishes his career with a 29-7 record and has fought against a hall of fame talent including Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, Ken Shamrock, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, and Wanderlei Silva.
Though Franklin has not been active inside the cage, he as remained busy behind the scenes being the vice president of the Singapore based MMA promotion ONE Championship and stated that he will continue to put time and energy in helping the organization grow.
“So, where do I go from here? In my mind, the sky is the limit! I decided I didn’t want to announce “retirement,” rather, I am announcing that I have closed one chapter of my life and begun another. I am blessed to continue working in an industry I helped build. I will continue to do great things with ONE Championship.
Many years ago, I was just a guy chasing his dream. Today, I stand here humbled and appreciative of where that pursuit took me. God bless!”