Before the epic interim title fights at UFC 236 began, former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titlist Rich Franklin was announced as the promotion’s next hall of fame inductee. Franklin’s work in the cage merits the honor by itself, but one of the reasons he stands apart from other former champions is that he was one of the UFC’s finest ambassadors. At a time when most people only saw the sport as brutish barroom brawling, the educated and erudite Franklin — a former teacher with a master’s degree — was a congenial face and articulate voice behind the violence.
This was a fitting prelude to the fights at the top of the card. At a time when ugly feuds and domestic abuse allegations have overshadowed the sport, the fights at UFC 236 on Saturday in Atlanta and the individual combatants in them were ideal ambassadors of what mixed martial arts is at its best. They showcased the thrill of competitive violence but also transcended their immediate entertainment value to demonstrate different contours of what makes fighting beautiful…Like