With Rich Franklin's getting KO'd at UFC in Macau this past weekend, we are likely closer to seeing the end of an amazing run from an athlete who didn't even start on his high school football to becoming a UFC World Champion. There is no doubt he was a major star in the UFC that headlined many events, but is he a Hall of Famer? I recall some in the MMA media and the UFC refer to him as a Hall of Famer, but does he really qualify? Unlike other Hall of Fames in Baseball, Football, and Basketball where you can compare long established benchmarks for getting in, the UFC is still in its infancy and there is still some debate as to what qualifies a fighter to be in the Hall of Fame.
I am not taking a position or arguing why he should or should not get be in the UFC Hall of Fame. I just want to set the table for a debate and weigh the pros and cons of whether or not he should get inducted. This is just one of many debates that will come up in the next decade as we weigh the merits of such fighters like Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and Frank Mir as their careers wind down and their credentials and legacies are considered as well.
I would like to start by listing the reasons why Rich Franklin is a UFC Hall of Famer.
- Held the UFC Middleweight Belt and defended it twice against Nate Quarry and David Loiseau.
- 14-6 record, a 70% win percentage in a career where he fought primarily top tier fighters.
- Main Evented 13 UFC cards whereas Chuck Liddell main evented 12 cards and Matt Hughes main evented 9 events.
- Major wins over former champions Chuck Liddell, Ken Shamrock, Evan Tanner twice, and Wanderlei Silva twice. Shamrock and Liddell is already in the Hall of Fame and if there is a MMA or Pride Hall of Fame, Wanderlei would be a unanimous first ballot inductee.
- Solid wins over contenders like Yushin Okami, Travis Lutter, and Matt Hamill.
- A two-time coach on The Ultimate Fighter, coaching on Season 2 and replacing Tito Ortiz during Season 11.
- A company guy that always stepped up for the company and putting the company’s needs ahead of his own at times. Fighting Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 and taking a number of fights at 195 that did not improve his chances of getting a title shot.
- A great ambassador for the sport that Dana White could comfortably use to debate Bill O’Reilly or other media pundits since Franklin was a math teacher with a Master’s Degree and very clean cut and articulate.
- Rich Franklin was very popular and well respected among fans, his peers, the media, and his bosses.
Here are the arguments against Rich Franklin being a UFC Hall of Famer
- Franklin held the Middleweight belt during a time when the talent pool in the division was pretty shallow, thus Nate Quarry and David Loiseau each received title shots after going 3-0.
- Franklin was demolished in both of his matches against Anderson Silva showing just how far of a gap there is between Franklin and Anderson Silva.
- In fights that could have help to have cemented his legacy, Franklin came up short against top-tier fighters Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, and Vitor Belfort.
- When Franklin beat Shamrock and Liddell, both were already on the tail end of their careers.
- Franklin beat a troubled Evan Tanner, but never really beat a top tier fighter in their prime.
- Since beating David Loiseau, Franklin has only been 7-6 in the Octagon.
So there are the pros and cons to whether or not Rich Franklin is a future UFC Hall of Famer. Regardless of whether he is one day inducted, his contributions to the sport will never be forgotten. So what do you guys think? Will he be in or out?