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Rich Franklin Eyes Summer 2012 Return After Successful Shoulder Surgery

Rich "Ace" Franklin is one step closer to returning to the cage. According to manager J.T. Stewart, the former UFC middleweight champion's Wednesday shoulder surgery was deemed a "complete success."

"I spoke with Rich, he's feeling great and as soon as the doctor gives him the go-ahead, he's ready to start training again," said Stewart in a press release. "If everything goes as expected, UFC fans could see Rich Franklin back in the Octagon in late summer."

Franklin (28-6) first suffered the torn labrum in late August after an injury to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira -- coupled with a string of light heavyweight scratches -- forced the veteran's removal from the card of UFC 133. Following the successful procedure, the 37-year-old will now require an extensive rehabilitation period before being able to return to training.

Despite having competed just twice in the past two years, "Ace" remains one of the UFC's most beloved figures. The Cincinnati native has rotated wins and losses since leaving the middleweight division in 2008, racking up a 3-3 record while dueling a collection of namebrand opponents, including Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, and Vitor Belfort.