RICH FRANKLIN

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Franklin's journey to the cage is one of determination. After coming to the realization in high school that he was not big enough to pursue a college football career, Rich "Ace" Franklin decided to try his hand at karate, a discipline his father enrolled him in at 12 years old.

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He struck up a friendship with his instructor's sons and began training with them. One of them had a background in Thai boxing and when combined with Franklin's karate background, they got their first taste of MMA. From there, Franklin started studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The gym closed and without a place to train, they trained themselves in an old shed using instructional videos.

After graduating from college, Franklin began training at a facility once again, Excalibur fitness. Growing in skill and earning key victories in MMA fights, Franklin quit his job as a math teacher, found higher level training facilities and coaches and began training fulltime. He trains at four different facilities focusing on different disciplines – strength and conditioning, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and boxing. It was then that he was offered his first UFC fight.

A former UFC middleweight champion, Franklin holds notable victories over Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Yushin Okami, Matt Hamill, Nate Quarry, Evan Tanner and Ken Shamrock. His awards and accolades include two successful title defenses, Knockout of the Night and Fight of the Night.

Franklin and American Fighter President Jeff Adler created the Keep It in the Ring Foundation, which advocates non-violence and character building in youth through after school sports, martial arts and life skills programs.

Franklin, who is a born-again Christian, quotes Psalm 144:1 on his webpage and fight gear, which states "Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.