Many debatable questions in the world of sports, unfortunately, are asked by opposing parties for years without ever truly reaching a resolving answer, due to lack of facts or evidence to support such an opinion. As a fan of Rich Franklin, I shall do my best to lay it all out on the table, and provide as such in order to answer the above question.
Any follower of the UFC’s history will have their personal picks as to who should be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. But what, exactly, is the criteria necessary for such an induction? Bear with me as I break it down in the case of Ace.
Longevity. When Franklin burst onto the scene in the UFC in 2003, he immediately made an impact by soundly defeating the very tough Evan Tanner. He would go on for the next nine years compiling an impressive win/loss record that, as of this writing, stands at 29-7-0 -1NC. He has competed in two weight classes, Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight. He also had a stint as a coach on Season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter. Although never known as a "box office draw", his drawing power did have some life to it, and today, at 38 years old, Franklin continues to remain in peak physical fighting condition, and is still one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC. He shows little, if any, signs of physically slowing down.
Former Title Holder. In 2005, barely five years into his career, Franklin captured the Middleweight title, and would go on to defend the belt successfully on two occasions against two worthy opponents, Nate Quarry and David Loiseau. Franklin reigned as champ for sixteen months, and had Anderson Silva not existed (we all know what happened from there), who knows just how long Franklin could have reigned as champion. There is nothing wrong with losing to Anderson. Everyone else has.
Resume of Opponents. Franklin has fought the who’s who of opponents in his career, some of whom are either future Hall of Famers themselves, or are already in. Most notably, Franklin will forever be remembered as the man that ended the Hall of Fame career of Chuck Liddell via first round KO, and doing it with a broken arm sustained in the fight. He has also fought such legends as Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva (twice), Lyoto Machida (albeit outside of UFC), Ken Shamrock, Vitor Belfort (although losing via very controversial KO), Forrest Griffin, Cung Le and as mentioned earlier, Anderson Silva. I would highly doubt that the list will end there by the time Franklin calls it a career.
Model Employee. I could attribute this one to a number of factors. First, Franklin has never backed out of a fight due to injury or lack of preparation, and has also never failed to make weight for any fight. Most importantly, and I know that this next one has been pointed out repeatedly in the past, Franklin has, on three occasions (to the best of my knowledge) stepped in and took a fight as a last-minute replacement. Fighters like that are hard to come by, and Dana and the Fertittas will surely miss him when he is gone.
Whether or not the casual fan believes that Franklin is past his prime and should call it a career, his years of contributions to the UFC are undeniable. I truly believe that Rich “Ace” Franklin is a lock to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame upon his retirement, which I hope he is NOT ready for yet.