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The MMA Top 10 2.17.14: Top 10 Potential Final Opponents for Rich Franklin
Posted by Alex Rella on 02.17.2014

Ten Potential Opponents for Rich Franklin's Final Fight

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Hey everybody, I am Alex Rella and this is the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at ten potential opponents for Rich Franklin's final fight. Franklin is one of my all time favorite fighters and he's been talking lately about how he'll retire after he finishes the one remaining fight on his UFC contract. The former UFC champion and the second best middleweight fighter of all time should already be in the UFC Hall of Fame. Franklin is now a business owner and is making the smart move to leave fighting on his own terms. I really hope he walks away with a win.

Picking his final opponent is going to be somewhat tricky for the UFC though. The fighter he goes up against needs to have some name value to make the fight appealing for Franklin and the fans, but the fighter can't be too good as Franklin needs to at least walk into the fight with a decent chance of winning. Plus you're hoping he doesn't get knocked out cold in his final fight like so many other great aging fighters. So it doesn't really make sense to throw him up against a rising prospect or even a top contender in most cases. The last fight has to be someone Franklin has a nice chance to beat, but also someone respected enough that he can still hold his head high if he does lose. I tried to balance all these factors and come up with a list of guys Franklin can fight at light heavyweight or middleweight.

Honorable Mentions:

∑ Thales Leites- A veteran at 185 lbs, Leites is on a nice five fight winning streak right now.

∑ Shogun Rua- This would be a cool fight between former champions, but it doesn't crack the top ten because Shogun would most likely leave him unconscious.

10: Ed Herman

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I can't remember the last time I talked about Ed Herman, but he starts this week off in the tenth spot. Herman was the runner up in the third season of TUF and he's been with the UFC since 2006. Herman has wins over tough fighters like David Loiseau, Joe Doerksen, former UFC champ Dave Menne, and he was the last person to defeat Glover Teixeira. 8-7 in the UFC, Herman has some nice knockout and submission victories on his resume. The tough veteran middleweight has fallen short against top competition in the past, but he should certainly be able to hold his own against an aging Rich Franklin.

9: Mark Munoz

Mark Munoz had the most disappointing performance of his career back in October as he failed to throw a single strike against Lyoto Machida and ended up getting knocked out. Despite the loss, Munoz is still a top ten middleweight with wins over Tim Boetsch, Chris Leben, and Demian Maia. Munoz also made UFC history as he was in the first five round non-title fight back in 2011. The former All-American wrestler would most likely grind out a victory against Franklin, but he's also getting up in age at thirty six so anything is possible.

8: Fabio Maldonado

I personally can't stand Fabio Maldonado and I would love to see Rich Franklin beat him. Maldonado has become kind of arrogant lately and called out some top competition, which should be odd considering his most memorable performance in the UFC was getting his face destroyed by Glover Teixeira. Putting my personal bias aside, Maldonado has a nice 20-6 record and he's probably a win or two away from cracking the UFC's top fifteen rankings at light heavyweight. So throw Maldonado up against a former UFC champion if he wants a step up in competition. Maldonado was an undefeated boxer, but I think Franklin is a little better rounded overall. This one could go either way and it would be fun to watch.

7: Anthony Perosh

Not all the guys on this list are former main eventer or stars, some are just tough veterans. Anthony Perosh is in his second run with the UFC and he's 4-2 at light heavyweight in the octagon. The Australian has never been an elite fighter, but he's pretty well rounded with his karate background and he's a fairly accomplished grappler as well. The Hippo is still fighting at a high level at forty one years old and this fight could go either way. This would be a big fight if the UFC did another pay per view in Australia.

6: Michael Bisping

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Michael Bisping is a little high up on the rankings for Franklin, but the fight could make sense for both fighters. For Franklin it's a tough opponent with name value, but isn't unbeatable either. Bisping could also use the win over the former champion as he tries to get back into title contention. Bisping would most likely win this fight, but he doesn't really have knock out power that will embarrass Ace in his final fight. A win for Franklin wouldn't be the most shocking thing either as he has only lost to Anderson Silva and Cung Le at middleweight so far, plus Bisping has a questionable chin of his own.

5: Alan Belcher

I really thought Alan Belcher was going to make a serious title run back in 2012, but since then he's looked about as bad as his Johnny Cash tattoo. Belcher has been dominated by Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping in his last two fights. The Talent is a pretty well rounded fighter though, so I do expect him to get back on track when he returns from his awful eye injury. Belcher has said he would like try competing at light heavyweight when he gets healthy too. A fight with Franklin could happen at 205 lbs, 185 lbs, or even a catchweight. I think this could be an exciting fight that could go either way.

4: Mike Swick

Mike Swick is one of the few guys left from the first season of TUF and he would fit in nicely here. A former number one contender in the WEC, Swick has competed at light heavyweight through welterweight in the UFC. Swick sat out all of 2013, but announced he would like to return to action at middleweight. Swick has come close to earning title shots at 185 and 170 lbs before and has a 10-4 record in the UFC, so he's no trashcan. I would pick Franklin in this fight, but Swick has always had knockout power so it could go either way. It would make for a good fight if Swick could stay healthy.

3: Anderson Silva

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This one might seem like a little bit of a stretch, but I'll explain. Up until Cung Le knocked him out, Franklin was hoping to get another title shot against Anderson Silva. Everybody kinda scoffed at it as it seemed like Silva would just knock him out again, but Silva's management team expressed interest in it if he were able to put together a few wins. Now the situation has changed a little bit. Silva lost his title and now he's on the sidelines recovering from his ankle injury. Early estimates have him returning at the end of 2014 and that could line up with Franklin's business schedule. Whether it be at light heavyweight or middleweight, Silva could be vulnerable in his first fight back and I can't think of a better way for Franklin to ride off into the sunset than finally beating the guy that took his title. Of course Silva could just end up killing him again too.

2: Antônio Rogério Nogueira

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This fight was supposed to originally happen at UFC 133 and it would still make for a good fight today. The fight was cancelled back in 2011when Nogueira pulled out of the fight with a shoulder injury, I know very shocking for him. Little Nog is in the top ten of most light heavyweight rankings, but he hasn't fought in over a year now and his current two fight winning streak is over Tito Ortiz who didn't let his ribs heal up and the worst fight of Rashad Evans' career. So I think this would still be a very winnable fight for Franklin. I think he's just as good as Little Nog when it comes to striking or on the ground. While Little Nog was a good boxer, I really don't think he's a threat to knock him out. Ace could leave with a win over another veteran who's had a very respectable career.

1: Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson is the perfect opponent for Rich Franklin in his final fight. The two former champions met for the first time back in 2009 in the main event of UFC 93. Back then they were both fighting for a chance to coach TUF against Michael Bisping and hopefully get another chance at the UFC middleweight title. Henderson won by split decision, but I personally thought Franklin was robbed and there are many others that also think he won that fight. A rematch was rumored for a little while, but Hendo ended up going to Strikeforce and winning gold over there. Now both fighters are in a similar situation again. Henderson just signed a six fight contract with the UFC, but he's on a three fight losing streak at forty three years old. I'll be shocked if he finishes out the contract and he may end up on a four fight losing streak after his rematch with Shogun. Neither fighter is likely to knock the other out at this point, but it could be a fun competitive fight that should be the co-main event of a pay per view. A win would be a nice high note for either fighter to walk out on.

So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
I might do Gegard Mousasi's best fights next week, but anyone can feel free to suggest something better,

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