TORONTO – Rich Franklin hasn’t fought in the UFC’s octagon since Cung Le sent him face-first into the mat with a right hand at this past November’s UFC on FUEL TV 8.
Since losing a bid to reclaim the UFC middleweight title from then-champ Anderson Silva in 2007, Franklin hasn’t been able to string together more than two straight wins and has spent an increasing amount of time on the bench.
Franklin (29-7 MMA, 14-6 UFC) is also no stranger to severe injuries, having broken his foot, forearm, hand, and been poked in the eye so hard it distended.
Indeed, “Ace’s” MMA career is certainly in its sunset, and with his most recent loss, many have suspected he is effectively retired.
That’s not the way Franklin wants it, though. According to UFC President Dana White, the former middleweight champ is not ready to hang up his gloves and wants to compete again.
“I think he wants one more fight,” White said at a pre-event press conference for Saturday’s UFC 165 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. “I think he wants to fight again. It’s so hard for these guys to retire. It’s so hard to make the, ‘I’m retiring’ statement. It’s hard.”
As you might guess, Franklin doesn’t exactly have the UFC’s boss’ stamp of approval in getting back into the cage. White said the 38-year-old has other ways of making money, and, frankly, it might be a good time to invest solely in that.
“He’s building a business right now,” White said of Franklin. “He’s starting his own business. He’s out there (in Los Angeles) working on that and building his own business. Hopefully it takes off and he makes millions of dollars and doesn’t want to do that last fight. That’s what I’d love to see.
“When guys get to a certain age, my question becomes, ‘Why? Why go in and fight a guy?’ I know you love it. I know this is who you are and everything else, but if he does this juice bar thing and it takes off and he makes millions of dollars, good for him. I’d rather that happen.”
Franklin was one of the UFC’s most heavily promoted fighters as it found success with “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV. He served as a coach on the reality show’s second season after winning the middleweight title and returned as a guest coach on a future season. While his reign as champion was cut short by Anderson Silva, who went on to set the record for title defenses, he maintained his star status and was frequently booked when promotion needed that on short notice.
In his later career, Franklin has bounced between wins and losses and weight divisions while contemplating retirement as his most recent contract winds down. He’s competed as a light heavyweight and at catchweights. But it sounds like White wants him to settle down – permanently.
Franklin’s business manager, J.T. Stewart, could not be reached for comment.
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(Pictured: Rich Franklin)