Rich Franklin is a former UFC champion and long time staple of the top end of major UFC events. But that isn't enough to have earned him enough money to retire comfortably, even with a reasonably conservative lifestyle.
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Franklin spoke about the subject with Fight Hub TV's David Ortiz, starting with his take on fighter pay in the promotion in general:
Listen, everybody is put on their own schedule. What the UFC negotiates with me is different than what they negotiate with somebody else and so on and so forth. From a business standpoint, I get it. The UFC isn't in the business of just giving away money. It's your job to negotiate that money.
It is difficult because they're the only player on the block. This is the analogy that I use with people: In the NFL I can negotiate my contract with a team. If I don't like that contract I can...there's 31 other teams to negotiate with. And, I know it's not that easy, but the point is...there are other sources that you can go to. The UFC is the only player, so it does give them a bit of an edge. But, kudos to them for having such a great business plan.
I've never been one to talk about fighter pay with somebody else. I know there are fighters out there that make way more money than I do, and I would never complain if someone wanted to add a decimal place to my paycheck. But, you have to remember that I was...and we talked about this previously, but I was a high school teacher and I transitioned into MMA. And I made way more money fighting than I ever would have teaching high school.
Honestly, I feel blessed that I've been given the opportunities I've been given and I feel blessed that I've made the money that I've made. And, I see now that fighters are coming in and guys like Jones are coming in and they're getting bigger contracts and the sport is more mainstream, they have better endorsement opportunities...the Gatorades and the Nikes and the Under Armours weren't there 5, 6, 7 years ago when I was at the top of the game. So I missed out on that. I was on the wave before the big wave.
So, yeah, it would have been nice if I made more money in my career but I'm not complaining about the amount of money I made for sure. The UFC always treated me well and they basically did the things that they said they were going to do.
Franklin was then asked if he could retire if he retired from the sport today:
I leave comfortable, but. Here's the thing...the reality of my situation is I'm not...and you can tell this based on my career, my persona, I'm not the guy that's rolling around in $250,000 sports cars. I've never spent money on stuff like that. I live a very modest lifestyle and I will probably the rest of my life.
I find value in experiences rather than material things. I'm the kind of person who would spend money to like, go observe lions in their natural habitat before I would buy a brand new sports car or something like that.
So, with that being said, I've made enough money that I could live my modest lifestyle comfortably for a little while, but I couldn't retire for the rest of my life. If I could just retire for the rest of my life and never work, I don't know that I would have opened up ZeLin as a business venture. Instead I would have just taken my passion for teaching people and would have done lifestyle lectures and motivational speeches for fun. I would do a bunch of charity work. I've done tons of things in the past for disabled veterans, for children's hospital here in Cincinnati, I've been involved in a lot of different things.
So, I'm not going to put it on cruise control the rest of my life. I'm going to need another financial source to make money to live comfortably for the rest of my life.
My funds would definitely run out before my heartbeat did, that's for sure.