Undoubtedly, Rich Franklin is an MMA icon. The 34-year-old former UFC Middleweight Champion has achieved a level of success only a small percentage of fighters will ever know. On June 13th at UFC 99, “Ace” will have the unique opportunity of sharing the main event Octagon with “the Axe Muderer” Wanderlei Silva as the UFC takes their show to Germany for the very first time.
After losing a close split decision to former Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson at UFC 93 back in January, Rich will now face a whole different kind of beast in Wanderlei Silva. Silva is known for his very aggressive straight-forward style of striking and will be looking to KO Franklin.
Rich took a few minutes to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info) about how he thinks he matches up with Silva, how he feels about switching weight classes, his thoughts on his last fight, what he thinks the current middleweight champ is up to, his thoughts on Liddell, and much more. H-e-e-e-e-e-r-e’s “Ace!”
PRO MMA: Hey Rich, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). How is everything going with the Franklin family these days?
RICH: Everybody is healthy, and I had some time with the family before I buckled down for this fight.
PRO MMA: We last saw you in the Octagon at UFC 93 against Dan Henderson where you lost the split decision. What was your feeling on the judges’ decision on that fight as well as your performance?
RICH: I performed just like we trained…tons of work to the body. I thought I did enough to win the fight. I dominated on the feet, stuffed several take-downs, was able to get up when we hit the ground most of the time, and the times I did not get back up he did not do any damage.
PRO MMA: Your next fight is set for June 13th against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99. The last I heard it was going to be a catch weight fight. What weight will that fight be at? And what is the reasoning behind having it at the catch weight?
RICH: It will be at 195. Silva moved down to 185, and I am staying at 205. The UFC made it clear they were not giving me another title shot at 185. They wanted to put on an explosive fight for the first card in mainland Europe. I did not want to drop down for one fight, and he did not want to move back up, so the UFC came up with the catch weight.
PRO MMA: I know you used to fight at light heavyweight and then you moved down and became the UFC Middleweight Champion and then your last couple of fights were back at light heavyweight and now this fight you are moving back down a little bit at the catch weight. How do you feel about moving back down for the catch weight? Would you rather just stay at light heavyweight?
RICH: I’d rather stay at 205, but I can make 195 without stripping the weight I put on to fight at light heavyweight.
PRO MMA: If you could have it any way, first of all, at what weight would the Wanderlei fight be and what weight class would you want to stick with? What do you consider your optimum weight and does it bother you at all having to keep switching weight classes?
RICH: It doesn’t really bother me. As long as I can keep putting on exciting fights for the fans, that is all that matters to me.
PRO MMA: What is your opinion of Anderson Silva’s last performance and in your opinion what is going on with him?
RICH: What is going on is that he is winning fights. I’m not sure what kind of strategy his camp developed for the last fight, but I am sure he stuck to the game plan.
PRO MMA: Rich you are 34-years-old now, you’ve been fighting professionally for almost ten years. How much longer do you see yourself fighting professionally?
RICH: I’m not sure really…I know I’ve got a few more years in me if I want to stick around. I believe my skill level has improved in the last several years of my career.
PRO MMA: What is your opinion on Chuck Liddell’s situation? Do you think it’s time for him to retire or should a fighter be allowed to fight as long as he wants to regardless of the repercussions to his health and well-being?
RICH: I believe it is up to Chuck and his camp to make that decision. If he does the proper medical testing and we are unable to see long term damage, who are we to say when he should retire.
PRO MMA: What can we expect out of you in this upcoming fight with Wanderlei? Can you give us a prediction of what the fight may look like and can you tell us anything about your game plan going into the fight?
RICH: I will answer your question with a question. Do you really ever watch me fight and wonder what you can expect, really?
PRO MMA: How cool is to be able to headline the UFC’s first card in Germany?
RICH: I always like headlining fights in new areas, because the fans are extremely excited to have us there. Germany will be interesting though, because they are uneducated about the UFC in general at this point.
PRO MMA: Do you have any German in your ancestry?
RICH: I have some German ancestry on my father’s side.
PRO MMA: Finally, Rich, how is our buddy Jorge Gurgel doing, what’s he been up to?
RICH: Jorge is fighting in Strike Force. I believe he has a fight scheduled the week after mine
PRO MMA: Will Jorge be helping you prepare for Wanderlei at all?
RICH: We will not be spending any of this camp together. I am in Seattle and he will be traveling to Boston. It was difficult not having him in my corner for my last fight, and will be an adjustment I will have to get used to for this fight as well.
PRO MMA: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us at PRO MMA (promma.info). We wish you the best of luck in this upcoming fight. Would you like to thank any sponsors before we let you go?
RICH: As always I like to thank American Fighter (www.americanfighter.com).
By: Jack Bratcher