The time for talk is just about over as Rich Franklin (24-4 1 NC) faces Wanderlei Silva this Saturday at UFC 99: The Comeback. While the fight may be do-or-die for Wanderlei Silva, Franklin admits that the fight doesn’t carry the same weight for him.
“As far as what it means for my career, it’s just another fight,” Franklin said during last week’s media conference call. “I try not to put a lot of weight on fights in particular like that, like a must-win situation and all that kind of stuff. I just prep for this fight the same way I prep for any other fight. And as far as Wanderlei goes, as an opponent, I mean this is a great opportunity for me to fight another great fighter.
“But that’s going real well. I feel great for this fight. I’m inside 2 weeks, and I’m at the point where I’m just – I’m done training and I’m ready to – I’m ready to fight. I want to get this one over with.”
Franklin also talked about his relationship with his former rival, Anderson Silva, who helped train him for this fight.
“Anderson and I, we’ve been friends since after the second fight he and I had together,” Franklin noted. “On several occasions, we tried to train together, but scheduling wise it just didn’t seem to work out. As far as his manager contacted myself, contacted me several weeks ago and asked me if I was interested in coming out there and training for this fight. So I spoke to my coaches about it, (Rob, Neil) and (Matt), and asked them what they thought, got their opinion on it. And they all thought that it was a good idea, so I decided to head out to L.A. and train for a couple of weeks with my coaches. And that’s about the extent of the relationship other than the fact that I mean we’re just – we’re just friends. And that seemed like a good resource for this fight in particular.
“There was no – I know that there was some Internet chatter between Anderson and Wanderlei going on, and all this had – the decision to go out there and train at that camp had happened way before any of that – any of that stuff had ever happened. You know I tried to keep myself out of any of the you know personal battle that was going on between the two of them. I was just looking for a good resource to use to help me prep for this fight. And you know I learned a few things while I was out there, and, all in all, it was a decent camp.”
As for his feeling towards his Wanderlei Silva, Franklin was quick to note that he has no hostility towards ‘The Axe Murderer’, saying “I have no personal vendetta against Wanderlei. There have been several occasions where actually he and I had spoken to each other about training together before he had his camp opened in Las Vegas. And, of course, that didn’t come to fruition, and now we’re pitted against each other.
“But, yes, I mean typically I mean you know once I fight somebody I assume that I’m probably not going to end up fighting them again. And so, yes, I mean as a professional, one to the other, I mean oftentimes you can end up using somebody as a resource in the future or something like that. I would – anybody that I fought in the past, like if (David Lawazo) was to call me up and ask me if I’d help him prep for a fight or something like that if it worked out in my schedule then I would have no probably doing that.”
While Franklin is fighting this bout at a catch weight of 195 lbs., Franklin’s bouts for the foreseeable future will be in the light heavyweight division. However, Franklin doesn’t rule out a return to the middleweight division one day.
“You know I’m a never say never kind of guy, so I just don’t know. But the – I mean the UFC, they had spoken to me on several occasions about moving to 205 before I actually moved up to this weight class. And I was kind of resistant at first because I’m not really a big 205 pound fighter even though I started my career here. But I will say that you know me fighting at 205 pounds in 2000 or 2002 is different than me fighting at 205 pounds in 2009. It’s just the sport’s a different animal now. The athletes are different.
“But you know – so I’ve had this constant effort of trying to put on weight and acclimate myself back to that weight class,” Franklin continued. “And I don’t – what I’ve tried to avoid is jumping back and forth in between, which is exactly why this fight was negotiated at 195 pounds. So I don’t see myself – you know I don’t particularly want to jump around between (85 and 200), but if I was to finish at 205 and plan on retiring and the UFC wanted to do some sort of final swan song at 185, for whatever reason or something like that, I would – you know I would be open to that. And I mean really, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve always been one of those fighters that whatever the organization needs from me, I’m pretty much willing to do anything.”
Franklin also talks about current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, admitting that he hasn’t watched his recent fights, saying “I didn’t watch the fights with Machida. I – when I’m prepping for a fight, I don’t watch other fights. I don’t like to. It’s just something that I don’t do. So I’ll have to catch that on the back side of my fight to see how he looked. I did see some photos and all that kind of stuff, but you know I’m sure that Machida does what he does best. He’s very elusive. He’s difficult to hit. He uses that kind of wide, traditional karate stance, and then he leans back quite a bit. And, of course he has decent sweeps in judo so he can get away with that without getting taken down. And he fights great as a counter puncher.
“And the problem is is that fighting a guy like Lyoto, you have to be very, very, very patient. And, in order to do so, that’s going to create a fight that’s probably not the most explosive or the most exciting. And I have a tendency to try to put on a good show for the fans at least. So in a rematch against somebody like Lyoto, I would definitely have to sit down and really think about the strategy for that fight and probably re-wiring myself so that I don’t get caught up in his little Web of deceit, I guess, with his style of fighting.”
Franklin finally addressed Kimbo Slice appearing on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, a show he coached on the second season opposite of Matt Hughes.
“I think that given Kimbo’s track record, his history and all that kind of stuff and where he came from and just his performance and the fights that he’s had so far, I think that this is probably where he should be. I mean it’s a smart move to put him on the show. It’s going to pull in ratings. So, from a business point of view, that’s probably the best thing that you could do. But I just don’t – I think at this point in time he doesn’t deserve to just go into (down) in the UFC and fight. He kind of has to earn his way to get there. And the Ultimate Fighter is the best place to do it.”