When looking back in UFC middleweight history, most people are going to mention Anderson Silva’s reign of holding the belt for seven years. But many forget who was champion at the time before Silva came onto the scene.

It was Rich Franklin, who won the title on June 4, 2005, before losing to Silva just over a year later. After rebounding with back-to-back wins, Franklin was awarded a rematch with Silva, but fell via TKO in the second round. Since then, it has been a bumpy road for the Cincinnati native.

Franklin is 5-4 since his loss at UFC 77 and has only fought twice at 185 pounds in that span. Yes, that is correct. The former middleweight champion has only fought twice at middleweight in nine fights. Four of the other fights were at light heavyweight and the remaining bouts were at catchweights of either 190 or 195 pounds.

In his last fight, which was at middleweight, Franklin faced Cung Le in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Macau, China. Le went on to knock out Franklin in the second round, putting the former champion in a difficult situation mentally. Where was he to go from there?

At 38 years old, Franklin is clearly past his prime and the MMA community expected him to possibly hang up the gloves following his loss to Le. However, it appears that isn’t the case.

“Ace” has said in interviews that he plans on stepping back inside the Octagon later this year, but he has no planned date or opponent as of right now. So, what else is out there for Franklin to add to his legacy? And at what weight class will he compete?

This is uncertain, even though Franklin last fought at middleweight, where he is 8-3 in the UFC. The veteran is only going to be in a spotlight fight against a well-known name, which leads to two possible opponents.

One is Brian Stann, who has fought at both 185 and 205 pounds. Stann is a on a tw0-fight losing skid, but he is very well known, which would draw interest for a fight against Franklin. Both guys are exciting fighters, are very likable personalities and match up well against each other.

Another option is a rematch against Forrest Griffin. Franklin lost to Griffin at UFC 126 in 2011 by unanimous decision. Fighting a new opponent like Stann makes more sense, but with both Franklin and Griffin nearing the end of their careers, there could be some unfinished business there.

No matter who the UFC matches Franklin up with, his legacy has already been cemented. First and foremost, he will be considered for his time as middleweight champion, along with being one of the many true, respectful fighters the UFC has on its roster. One thing is for sure, Franklin will go out like a true champion whenever the time comes for him to retire.

Photo: Rich Franklin (Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.