Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Franklin Comes Home Against “The Athlete

By: Brady Crytzer
Photo: Cozzone

Coming back from a loss is difficult. Coming back from your first loss in two years is much harder. Coming back from losing your world title is the pits. On the other hand, Rich “Ace” Franklin, born and raised in Cincinnati, will get the chance to fight in his home state for the first time in the Octagon.

Standing in his way of a victorious comeback is Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald.

In October of 2004, the former light heavyweight standout made a successful debut in the highly competitive middleweight division, taking out Boston’s Jorge Rivera with a slick third round armbar at UFC 50.

Following his victory at “The War of ’04,” “Ace” left the chilly Ohio winter and ventured to the Hawaiian Islands to take out the dangerous striker Curtis Stout in December. Franklin then returned to the Octagon in April of 2005 to do battle with the living legend Ken Shamrock at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter, Season One. In typical fashion, Franklin proved to be too fast, too young and too strong for his outgunned opponent despite being the smaller of the two men.

And in June, in his first ever UFC championship fight, Franklin beat and battered the rugged veteran champion Evan Tanner in one of his most impressive performances yet, making him the UFC middleweight champion. As his stock rose, Franklin found his latest stardom as a featured coach on Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter II.

In November of 2005, Franklin displayed the attributes that made him a champion by knocking out challenger Nate “Rock” Quarry in just 2:34 of the opening round. Franklin, who has been spending time in Davenport, IA with the Miletich Camp, is a patient and well-rounded fighter with devastating hands and excellent footwork.

Though his chin has come into question, from a 2003 knockout loss at the hands of Ryoto Machida, Franklin has shown no sign of weakness since his return to the UFC in October 2004. In March 2006, Franklin silenced a majority of his few critics with a completely dominate unanimous decision victory over the highly touted David “The Crow” Loiseau, despite a broken right hand. After being shocked by Anderson “The Spider” Silva, Franklin will definently be looking to get right back into the title hunt with a win over Macdonald on March 3rd.


Just a quick note to any would MMA promoters out there: when an opponent is needed, do your best not to pick a fighter from the Great White North. With an 18-7 record, MacDonald has been in the ring with some of the best in the world, the likes of “Mr. International” Shonie, Marvin Eastman, Kalib Starnes and Patrick Cote. Though he has suffered seven losses in his career, MacDonald has come through when it counted.

After finding huge success on The Ultimate Fighter 3, Ed Herman was shocked by MacDonald in his official UFC debut when “The Athlete” utilized brilliant jiu jitsu to tie the wrestler in knots before securing a tight triangle choke.

In his second appearance in the UFC, MacDonald took on another reality veteran in the form of fan favorite Chris “The Crippler” Leben. There were some holes in his game showed early mostly due to lack of stand up, but once the fight went to the floor MacDonald easily took control choking out the renegade Leben in the second round.

In his third fight in five months, the UFC is not doing much to protect this promising fighter by throwing him to the lions immediately against Franklin. Its hard to say what will happen in when “The Athlete” steps into the Octagon.

How They Match Up

When MacDonald stepped in to fight Herman, he was for all intensive purposes a tough fighter with a decent record. The recipe for the textbook opponent seemed to be MacDonald. He must not have gotten the email telling him that he wasn’t supposed to win. When he fought Leben, he shocked the world again choking out the hard headed star of The Ultimate Fighter. It was apparent that this one time opponent was becoming a full time world beater.

All the while, Franklin has been on the sidelines healing. After losing to Silva, Franklin has taken a seven month leave of absence, not unlike the seven months he took off to heal from a broken right hand after Loiseau. With Franklin healthy, expect him to be a major force in the middleweight division again. But, a long lay off against an underestimated opponent could be a recipe for disaster.

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