Rich Franklin defeats Wanderlei Silva while solidifying his spot in UFC history
Jun 26th,2012

Before Anderson Silva began his unbelievable run into “Greatest Ever” territory, perhaps the greatest champion inUFC middleweight history was Rich Franklin. Franklin constantly put on entertaining scraps, possessed knockout Soccer Jerseys power and a versatile ground game, all while having the sellable back story of being a high school teacher in his previous professional life. Combining the above elements made Franklin a bona fide UFC superstar. Then along came Anderson “The Spider” Silva who washed Franklin out, causing many fans to forget that Franklin was supposed to be the “new breed” of mixed martial artist, a complete fighter, not your everyday one-dimensional fighter commonly seen in the UFC’s early days. Franklin defeated Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision Saturday night in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as the main event for the barely salvageable UFC 147. Franklin faced a scary moment in the second round, when Silva connected with a thunderous right hand directly to Franklin’s chin, but Silva was unable to finish the former UFC middleweight champion. After allowing Franklin to survive, an obviously gassed Silva mounted little offense during the remainder of the fight. Beyond one 30 second flurry of violence that threatened to mess up Franklin’s Lloyd Christmas impersonation, Franklin was much quicker, too elusive and far more technical than the former Pride middleweight champion. The victory over Silva also gave Franklin the unofficial UFC Franklinweight title. The fictitious “franklinweight” is a weight class located somewhere between the 205 pound light heavyweight division and the 185 pound middleweight division, where Franklin has thrived since losing his UFC middleweight title rematch Anderson Silva in 2007. Franklinweight also consists of over-the-hill fighters that still pack name value and fight cards in need of saving. To date, Franklin has defeated Wanderlei Silva—twice, Chuck Liddell, and lost to Vitor Belfort all while fighting in catchweight bouts headlining cards that were in dire need of someone to put on a show. Franklin helped transition Belfort from the light heavyweight ranks into a middleweight contender, subbed in for Tito Ortiz against Chuck Liddell after Ortiz pulled out of a major summer card on short notice, and twice went into a foreign country to take on Wanderlei Silva, the second time in Silva’s home country of Marseille Jersey Brazil, putting on fight of the night performances in both those outings. Forever stuck in purgatory because of his inability to sustain success against the bigger fighters at 205, and the personal roadblock created by fan disinterest in seeing a third Silva-Franklin bout at 185, Franklin has remained a consummate professional whenever the UFC has needed him, fighting hard in sometimes meaningless bouts, yet performing like a title shot was on the line every time out. Franklin’s Saturday night fight with Wanderlei Silva proved many things but mostly it proved that Franklin is, has been and always will be one of the most important fighters the UFC has ever employed. Franklin will probably never fight for an actual UFC title again. However, it’s worth remembering all Franklin has accomplished in his UFC career, easy as it is to overlook the unassuming future hall of famer.