UFC 147: Is Rich Franklin a Middleweight Title Contender?
In the UFC 147 main event, Rich "Ace" Franklin emerged victorious after defeating Wanderlei Silva for a second time.
The fight meant very little in terms of rankings or in either man's career, but it was one of the best fights thus far into 2012. Franklin endured a number of Silva flurries and even survived nearly being finished in the second frame.
It was also Franklin's first fight since UFC 126 where "Ace" lost to the much bigger Forrest Griffin. Despite the long layoff, Franklin looked his normal self and is making people begin to take the ageing vet seriously at middleweight.
But how seriously should we take Franklin right now? Is he a serious title contender?
Barring some sort of crazy Dan Henderson-like career resurgence, the answer has to be a definite no. Franklin doesn't have the power or skill set to compete with the upper-tier middleweights. He's like the utility man in baseball—good at everything, but just not great.
He can give a number of middleweights a run for their money and certainly could surprise a few folks who've written him off due to the inconsistency in his career lately. But in no way, shape, or form should fans believe Franklin has another title run in him.
For one thing, Anderson Silva is still the champion and should he defeat Chael Sonnen, there's no way the UFC could sell a third meeting between "The Spider" and Franklin. That's not even considering how long it would take Franklin to be put "in the mix."
Franklin is, at best, two fights away from being labeled a contender. On a normal fight schedule that's the better part of a year and that's not considering any injuries that may occur. As any older person will tell you, they're not the same as they once were.
Franklin has had injury problems before—it's what kept him out of action since last February. Not only is Franklin more susceptible to injuries, but his body will also take longer to heal from them. When you add in the fact that weight cutting only gets tougher as you age, Franklin definitely has the odds stacked against him.
We've seen a few fighters like Henderson and Couture find success at an older age but those stories are few and very far in between. Franklin is one of the most well-conditioned athletes in the UFC, a trait that has never failed him inside the Octagon, but getting into title contention is akin to NBA fans liking LeBron James.
It's possible but it won't be happening any time soon.
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