Sadly, an era comes to an end; Rich “Ace” Franklin is retiring.

Ace made it public yesterday on AXS TV's "Inside MMA", when he disclosed to Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten that he’ll take one more fight and then pack it in.

The nine year UFC veteran has come to the conclusion that his career and viability in the sport has run its course. As Rich sees it, it would be years of work and effort to put him back into contention and at age 39, he knows (realistically) that it’s not likely to happen.

As Ace put it to Kenny & Bas:

“I lost my last fight, and that really kind of solidified my decision to make this my last fight, coming up. I know that that took me out of title contention, and so for me to actually get back in the title hunt again would be a couple years’ worth of work.”

I’m 39. I’ll be 40 next year, and it’s getting to the point where it’s late in my (MMA) life, and it’s really too late to make that title run. So, I started questioning, like, what am I really fighting for if I can’t make it to the title anymore? I know I’m not in title contention anymore, and I realize that. That’s how it is.”

In reflection, Ace was a journeyman fighter who accomplished a great deal with the skills that he had; the biggest of which was his heart.

Rich made his first appearance in the UFC in April of 2003 at UFC 42, with a TKO victory and as against the very man that he’d rest the middleweight belt from two years later, Evan Tanner.

After seizing the belt in 2005, he successfully defended it twice, only to have it brutally taken away from in October of 2006, by the now legendary and infamous, Anderson Silva.

Of the pair, they fought twice, and in both instances, Silva, as challenger and champion, respectively, beat Rich in every physical sense of the word. At times in the fight, Rich looked like a deer caught in a set of headlights, frozen against the cage, and having no idea as how too defend Silva’s onslaughts; he had lost; both times; badly.

To a lot of Rich’s fans and even those that weren’t / aren't, the pummelling that he took in those two fights was hard to watch and it was obvious both times round, that he was completely outclassed; as was the rest of the division for the next seven years. To the end of it, he never challenged for the title again and only managed to string together two 2 fight winning streaks, past his first loss to Silva. Beyond that, Rich has gone / went, win / lose, win / lose for the remainder of his career, with the last two being a win over Wanderlei Silva (UD) and a loss to Cung Le (R1 KO).

So now, and with his career all but said and done, Ace wants one last traipse to the Octagon and to hear the crowd call his name a final time (as is fitting), and with that, the question now becomes, who does the UFC give him?

As Rich would like a fighter with a name, the possibilities might be: Tim Kennedy / Costa Philippou / Mark Munoz or Michael Bisping. Of the four, perhaps, Philippou and Munoz are the best choices, because they are coming off of losses; as is Rich. Either way, it will be interesting to see who the promotion pairs him with.

Finally, most fans would probably concur that Rich was a solid fighter, but one that was swept aside by Anderson Silva’s tide and a newer, younger, more dynamic class that he simply can’t hang with.

Beyond that, fans would probably tell you that’s he’s one of the nicest guys that ever shadowed the Octagons canvas, and that he has been an amazing ambassador for the sport. That his, “awe shucks” demeanor and boyish charm, endeared him to MMA fans around the world, and that he’s stood an amazing inspiration to all that have and will, come after him. Further and as a humble teacher by profession, Rich has taught many who had never heard of our sport before, or who had viewed it as nothing but human cock fighting, that it’s a thing of beauty and something to be respected and admired, not derided. And that it’s populated by really great men and women, who could be anything from computer experts, to x-veterans, accountants and yes, even your local high school math teacher.

On behalf of all of Rich’s fans, we at LowKick thank him for all the thrills and we wish both he and his family nothing but the best; God Bless.

Outside picture courtesy of "unitedpersonalfitness.com"