It's often said history is written by the victors.
Perhaps this is why Rich Franklin's career is often undervalued and cast aside. He did, after all, suffer two horrendous beatings at the hands of the greatest middleweight -- and possibly fighter -- of all time, Anderson Silva. These were highlight reel knockouts, forever immortalized in every Silva montage played.
Seeing the Brazilian slam knee after knee into Franklin's face might make one forget just how good "Ace" was and is.
But he is good, great even. He's a man who has fought the best of the best, spent a majority of his career in the apex of the sport, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and sports an insanely good record -- 29-6-1 -- despite swimming in deep waters.
It's a record on par with fighters like Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, men who began their mixed martial arts (MMA) career around the same time as Franklin, earned UFC gold the same as Franklin but have received one accolade "Ace" has yet to be given.
They're all UFC Hall of Famers.
Some think Franklin will eventually get the nod only because he's been the epitome of a company man for the fight promotion, stepping in on late notice -- much like he did last night (June 23) at UFC 147 to face Wanderlei Silva -- to help salvage a card.
But Franklin is a bonafide Hall of Famer with credentials that rival and even surpass those of his aforementioned peers.
Go on, keep reading if you don't believe me.He's obviously a former UFC Middleweight Champion. Besides "The Spider," he's lost to four other men, all of them former champions. Lyoto Machida, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin have all worn MMA gold in the UFC or in "Hendo's" case, PRIDE Fighting Championships.
But he's also beaten a couple of former champions as well. Last night in Brazil, he chalked up a second unanimous decision over PRIDE's long-time middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva and "Ace" retired Chuck Liddell two years ago.
He's found success at two different weight classes -- 185 and 205-pounds -- moving back and forth between the two up until recently. He's decided to drop back down to middleweight permanently to make one more run at the title before hanging up his gloves and calling it a day.
The prospect has some snickering and laughingly suggesting Franklin is hoping Chael Sonnen can finish what he started back at UFC 117 and take the title off of Silva in two weeks. Surely, it would be easier for Franklin to defeat the "Gangster from West Linn" than it would a man who already wrecked his face twice.
But that's exactly the kind of fighter Franklin is. He doesn't care if he's lost to Silva once, twice or a million times. He'll step inside the cage against anyone to prove he's one of the best.
And he is.
Unlike Hughes, Couture and Liddell, Franklin is still winning. He isn't getting knocked out left and right, he's winning decisions against the likes of Silva and stopping other fighters -- Liddell, Matt Hamill and Travis Lutter -- in their tracks.
Is he as good as the middleweight kingpin? We have two examples showing he's not but then again, who is better than Silva? I would argue no one on the planet. Does that suddenly make Franklin's stock plummet?
But if "Ace" really wants one more go at the title, there's a ghost he should avenge. And his name is Vitor Belfort.
At UFC 103 in Dallas, the Brazilian became the third man to stop Franklin in a fight and only the fourth to defeat him. "The Phenom" was supposed to be one half of last night's main event but a broken hand sidelined him and Franklin stepped in.
Belfort is coming off two wins since his own defeat to Silva and is also looking to get another crack at "The Spider." Joe Silva gets paid a lot of money, I'm sure, to book matches for the UFC but that one's on the house.
Let Franklin get his rematch with Belfort with the winner vying fort title and prove why he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
As if he hasn't already.