…And Your New UFC Middleweight Champion

Rich Franklin and Evan Tanner at UFC 53

Rich Franklin defeats Evan Tanner at UFC 53

In a fight that had just about everything that fans could hope for, Rich Franklin was able to live his dream and reach the pinnacle of mixed martial arts and win a major title for the first time in his career. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Rich Franklin has come out and proved himself a fierce competitor time and time again.

In his very first match-up out of the gates under the bright lights of the UFC, Rich was able to show his dominant style by getting a huge win over Evan Tanner. In that one fight, he was able to solidify himself as a top name in his weight class and start his rise up the ranks in the octagon.

Rich Franklin was fairly unknown up to that point, but did hold wins over great competitors like Marvin Eastman and Travis Fulton. With a victory over Tanner, he was invited back into the octagon at UFC 44 against Edwin Dewees. Despite having a groin injury going into the battle, Rich was able to again overwhelm his opponent with his striking style and walked out a winner again.

It was on New Year’s eve in 2003 that Franklin’s career took a turn for the worse. He took a fight in Japan on the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye card against Ryoto “Lyoto” Machida. Though Franklin seemed ready for the fight, he was stopped for the first time in his career by Machida and his future in the UFC seemed uncertain. Although, Franklin had two wins in the octagon, losing in Japan by KO made some question whether he was really ready for another fight in the UFC.

Despite great success fighting at 205lbs, Rich was able to see that if was to have a prosperous future in MMA he would need to drop down to the 185lb weight class. Rich walked around for most of his fights in the light heavyweight division at or around 210lbs which was much less than many of the top fighters in that weight class. Rich was then able to make a comeback to the UFC and start his climb into the middleweight division.

His first match-up was against tough as nails fighter, Jorge Rivera at UFC 50 in Atlantic City. Franklin looked somewhat thin for the fight and many critics speculated that the drop in weight affected his performance. He had a very tough fight with Rivera, but was able to show off his submission skills as he tapped out Jorge with an armbar in the third round.

Now back into the UFC, Rich was waiting to get another fight in the 185lb division when an offer came across his table that was just too good to pass up on. The legendary Ken Shamrock was set up to fight for the main event of the “Ultimate Fighter” finale on Spike TV and Franklin was picked to take him on. Again, Franklin had to regain the weight and take the fight at 205lbs. It was obvious very early in the fight that Franklin was more than ready for the war in the octagon. He landed strikes at will and just a few minutes into the first round, Franklin ended Shamrock’s night with a barrage of punches on the ground. With that fight, not only did Franklin concrete himself as a top competitor, but he gained instant stardom.

It was announced that Franklin would drop back down to 185lbs to where he felt he belonged and get a shot at a title in a rematch with his opponent from his first UFC opponent, Evan Tanner. At UFC 53, Franklin returned to Atlantic City to live his dream and get the title he so badly wanted. Tanner to his credit was a phenomenal champion in his own right and was more than ready for another shot at Franklin.

In the first round, the two fighters traded punches and kicks, but with just about a minute to go, Tanner connected flush on Franklin’s jaw with a heavy right hand and dropped the former school teacher. Tanner jumped on the chance to end the fight, but Franklin was able to defend effectively and get out of the round. The rest of the time in the fight was dominated by Rich Franklin. He caught Tanner with strikes throughout the next two rounds and was excellent with his muay thai clinch and knees. By the 4th round, Tanner’s face was cut multiple times and he seemed outmatched by Franklin’s stand-up. A doctor determined that Tanner’s injuries were too much to continue and the fight was stopped, and with that Rich Franklin was crowned the new middleweight champion.

Now, Rich Franklin has the title that he has sought for so long and he’s also earned himself a spot as one of the coaches on the newest season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Rich was already a star after his defeat of Ken Shamrock, but now with the second win over Evan Tanner and a primetime slot as a coach on the top rated cable show, Franklin could be one of the biggest names in the game.

Rich Franklin earned his title and throughout his career he has proven that he belongs among the top fighters in the world. Now, the Cincinnati native can not only be called a top fighter, but Rich Franklin can be called champion.