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Old 11-27-2009, 01:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Rich Franklin: 'Im a businessman and this is my job'

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UFC's Rich Franklin: 'Im a businessman and this is my job'
Posted: November 27, 2009, 9:00 AM by Noah Love

Posted Sports MMA writer Barrett Hooper sat down with UFC's Rich Franklin on the middleweight's recent trip to Toronto:

Im choking out UFC superstar Rich Franklin. Thats never happened to him in 32 professional MMA fights, although this is hardly an octagon cage war.

He called me out from across the practice mat to grapple, and after admiring the bulls eye painted on the front of my mouthguard, he gave me a pink-mouthguarded grin and began attacking me with a series of submissions armbars, kimuras, triangle chokes, the kitchen sink.

Just when I was beginning to feel like a ball of yarn being pawed by a very large kitten, he allowed me to slip behind him and lock an arm around his throat. Then he did something even more surprising. Instead of struggling to break free of my grip, which he could have done as easily as snapping a twig, he adjusted my hold to sink the choke in even deeper, forcing him to tap out before he passed out.

Were at Revolution MMA, an upscale mixed martial arts gym in northern Toronto. Franklin has flown from his home in Cincinnati to spend a Saturday afternoon teaching a seminar. For the 20 or so would-be ultimate fighters and weekend warriors in attendance its like learning to shoot hoops from LeBron James or golf from Tiger Woods. Yes, a couple of hours with Franklin and hes tightened up my boxing and plugged holes in my ground game, but its as much about the fanboy experience as it is learning the intricacies and nuances of cage combat.

I like teaching seminars but its hard because the skill level of the participants varies so widely you never know how technical to get before people start getting either lost or bored, says Franklin, who taught high school math until his career in the UFC took off. Sometimes they want to learn how to fight, sometimes theyre more interested in hearing stories about fighting, which is fine, so I try to provide both.

Its hard not to stare at Franklin as he talks. Nicknamed Ace because of his resemblance to a certain pet detective, hes like a mad science experiment that grafted Jim Carreys head onto a gorillas body. And the whole time Im looking at him, Im picturing Anderson Silvas knees rearranging his face when Silva beat Franklin to capture the UFC middleweight title.

It takes a particular kind of guts to step into the octagon against MMA monsters like Anderson Silva (twice), Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, especially while wearing fight shorts the colour of neopolitan ice cream. But thats what makes Rich Franklin one of the most-popular fighters in the UFC, his Average Joe-ness and willingness to fight whomever UFC president Dana White puts in front of him.

Im a businessman and this is my job, he says. Its all about the next fight, getting in the cage. It doesnt matter who they put in there with me.

In addition to being a former champion and fan favourite, Franklin is also one of the UFCs top workhorses. Hes fought sixteen times in the last six years and three times this year already against top opponents, despite a few nagging injuries. His last fight was a first-round loss to Belfort in September that saw the lightning-fisted Brazilian swarm Franklin and pummel him with punches until the referee stepped in.

So, despite the injuries and illnesses that have sidelined four of the UFCs five divisional champions and at least as many top contenders, making a pay-per-view powerhouse like Franklin all the more valuable to the promotion, Franklin has decided to take a few much-needed months off.

I took the Belfort fight because Dana called and asked me, even though I wasnt quite where I needed to be physically or mentally. Now, Im not making excuses, thats just the nature of the fight game, he says. But now Im taking some time off and probably wont fight again until April or May. I need to rest and relax and recover a little bit and I also hate prepping for a fight in the wintertime. Cincinnati can get pretty cold and I hate running and working out when the temperature is always zero.

While fans wait anxiously for the fighters return, Franklin finds himself in an unusual position. He has fought at both middleweight (185 pounds) and light heavyweight (205 pounds), but his last two fights, a unanimous-decision win over Wanderlei Silva and the knockout loss to Belfort, were both contested at a 195-pound catchweight.

The UFC asked me to fight the catchweight fights to help Silva and Belfort make the drop down to 185 pounds, says the 35-year-old. But now Ive lost my ranking at 185 and 205. Its crazy I can headline a card and not be top-10 ranked.

As a result, he admits the UFC isnt quite sure what to do with him. Fighting at middleweight is an exercise in futility given hes already lost twice to champ Anderson Silva, who is either from the Matrix or Krypton, while hes also lost to the light heavyweight champ, Lyoto Machida. Yet, Franklin isnt quite ready to settle into the role of gatekeeper, the fighter all challengers must get past before being handed a title shot.

I just want to fight the top fighters in whatever division Im in, he says. And then, as if recognizing the clich hes just offered, he adds, Even if I put together a couple of wins at 195 Im not sure that helps me at 205 in terms of getting big fights. I need to get in there and mix it up with the light heavyweights so I can work my way toward a title shot.

Barrett Hooper is a National Magazine Award nominee and a contributing sports columnist to Toronto Life. He is also the writer/editor of the MMA blog fightingwords.ca.
http://network.nationalpost.com/np/b...is-my-job.aspx
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:46 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I still enjoy watching Rich fight. He and Chuck were my first two favorite fighters. And I also love to listen to him speak since he is a very articulate person and represents our favorite sport so well.

I look forward to more fights from him in the future.
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Rich Franklin has always been, and will always be, my favorite fighter. He's a stand-up guy, in a brutal sport.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree, I've never been bored at a Franklin fight. Plus he comes out to the greatest entrance song EVER.....or at least he used to prior to UFC 99. Bring back the ac/dc Rich!
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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One of my favorite fighters for quite awhile, a role model my kids can look up to.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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anyone from RevolutionMMA want to share how it went ?
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just an awesome representative for the sport and a great fighter as well.
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Old 11-27-2009, 01:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Zemelya View Post
anyone from RevolutionMMA want to share how it went ?
it was a fun afternoon, we learned some ground technique and tightened up footwork for striking combinations. rich was a great instructor and had serveral personal views on approaching various ground scenarios. many of the revmma instructors (joel, micheal and achilles) were on hand to provide further instruction and motivation.

rich was a very clear and patient teacher, he's a cool guy and even entered the gym to his signature ac/dc which was fun. after 30minutes of warmup and stretching we were able to enjoy a full 2 hour seminar with rich.

it was a great day, he even signed a tshirt for my nehpew who just got his blackbelt in karate. i got pretzeled a few times, enjoyed myself and seriously could not move the next day.

Bravo RevMMA and Joel it was a great event!

Bravo Rich Ace Franklin thank you!
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