The former UFC middleweight champion penned a retirement column on theplayerstribune.com, a site that future MLB Hall of Famer Derek Jeter founded in 2014 to give athletes a direct medium to reach fans.
According to 40-year-old Franklin (29-7 MMA, 14-6 UFC), who hasn’t fought since a November 2012 loss to Cung Le, a recent conversation with his mom helped make the decision. That, and the understanding that his “body has slowed down.”
Franklin, who now serves as vice president of the Singapore-based ONE Championship promotion, wrote about it:
I was joking with my mom a few weeks ago pretending that I was negotiating a final fight. I found out the next day she had not slept a wink that night.
“We’ve had our battles and done our duty,” she said.
I thought it was interesting how she used words like “our”. I have learned that my friends, family, coaches, training partners and even my fans shared the joy of my victories. It was as if they stepped into the cage with me for every fight. However, they also suffered the disappointment of my losses.
My mother was right, though, and it reminded me of Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy 4:7: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith …” This comes at a time when I have to accept that I am no longer 25. The body has slowed down, and while ever so slightly, those fractions of a difference determine victory or defeat at the top level.
Despite having one fight remaining on his UFC contract, Franklin recently told MMAjunkie Radio he spends more than a third of his time overseas working for ONE Championship, where his not-so-ceremonial duties range from event production to community/media relations to fan interaction to broadcasting:
Before the executive job, Franklin closed out his MMA/UFC fighting career with a 4-4 mark in his final eight fights, though he faced a murderers’ row of opposition and picked up wins over notables such as Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell.
Franklin’s best run came in 2005, when the Ohio native knocked out Evan Tanner to win the UFC’s 185-pound title and then defended it with victories over Nate Quarry and David Loiseau. Franklin’s title reign helped usher in a significant growth period for the sport, and the former teacher was a go-to ambassador when UFC officials needed to make a good impression with sponsors, business partners and regulators.
The fan favorite ultimately surrendered the belt to Anderson Silva – which kicked off what was arguably the most dominant title reign in MMA history – in 2006 but continued fighting top-tier talent at middleweight and in 190- and 195-pound catchweight fights.
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