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The Ultimate Fighting Championship's Ultimate Company Man Rich Franklin to the Rescue Again

Plenty of athletes are known for their abrasive personalities. Coaches, teammates, referees-no one is safe from divas like Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman. UFC fighters are no different. Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, and more recently Fedor Emelianenko have all pushed Dana White and Zuffa to the limit. But just when you begin to worry about White's blood pressure and general well being (and based on how he looked less than a decade ago, there may be some cause for concern) you remember that he has Rich Franklin to help him breathe a little easier. Franklin explained on the Inside the Ultimate Fighter podcast:

I’m kind of a company man.  If they need something done, then I’m going to do it and most of the stuff Dana asks of me is things that I’m willing to do anyway.

When the UFC calls, Franklin answers. After being chased out of the middleweight division by Anderson Silva, Franklin tried to reinvent himself as a light heavyweight, handily beating prospect Matt Hammill at UFC 88.  He took former Pride champion Dan Henderson to a close decision and seemed like he had a real chance to be a contender. The best thing for Franklin would have been to continue fighting at 205 pounds. Instead, the UFC needed someone to help ease Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva into the middleweight division. The cost for Franklin was two fold: he lost opportunities to establish his name as a top fighter at light heavyweight, but also a chance to build a body fit for the 205 pound class:

Here’s the thing — for me, I’m 35 years old and I’m going to have a hard time putting on a significant amount of muscle at this point in my life especially with the amount of cardio that I do and I have managed to put on a few pounds since I was fighting at 185, I think when I fought at 185 I was probably walking around at about 208 pounds and now I walk around at about just right under 215, maybe like 213, 214 or something like that. And honestly that’s about as good as it’s going to get for me. If I can manage to put on a few more pounds, then I think I’ve pretty much topped out. But, so you know, I realize that I’m just not going to be a big fighter in the 205 pound weight class.”

More in the full entry.


Time and again, Franklin has answered the call, even when it was hurting him and his career. Money talks, in the end, but poor choices may have cost him any shot at winning UFC gold again:

"I was looking for some time off after the Wanderlei fight last year and of course UFC after the 100 show really left themselves kind of barren with nobody to headline their show. And they needed me for 103 and although I would have rather taken some time off at that point in time, you know they called me and asked me to take this fight," Franklin said during a media conference call.  "And I said yes in September so after the September show even though the UFC had called me a couple times asking me to fight again I still said no. And this was about the time frame that I wanted to jump back in anyway so you know some time off, had the ability to physically reset, mentally reset and the timing was perfect."

This weekend, Franklin will once again answer the UFC's desperate call. This time the fight seems to be in both his interest and Zuffa's.  After all, Liddell is a Hall of Famer, but the best kind of legendary fighter-the kind that is very beatable. The fight, however, isn't without its challenges for Franklin. Much is being made of Liddell's return from a significant layoff.  But Franklin is also coming off a long break-and a serious injury:

I remember one day I was I actually had gone out to Salt Lake City to visit Jeremy Horn, I was at his school and I was doing a seminar and a friend of mine and I we went to a hot yoga class out there and I was doing this stretch backwards like a belly button stretch standing and stomach stretch and when I looked to the side I noticed my belly button was sticking out really bad. So I got home from that trip I went to the doctor and the doctor explained to me that it was an umbilical hernia and that they say if it doesn’t hurt he said you know if it’s not inhibiting you from doing anything athletically then you can continue going he said but the tear will get worse and some at point in time you will have to take care of it and I figured, well, since I have some down time now, now’s a good time if any to take care of this surgery so I did that and it was about, I guess a total of about eight weeks down. After about six or seven weeks I could start you know doing some small things but I wasn’t allowed to really lift any heavy weights, anything heavier than 20 pounds for about eight weeks.”

In preparation for the biggest fight of his second act, Franklin had to do more than just gameplan for a hard puncher with superb wrestling.  He also had to battle just to get into shape after two months on the shelf. Bettors beware.  Franklin may be talking a good game, but once again he's taken a fight that might be more beneficial to the UFC than it is to Rich Franklin.

HT: Fight Opinion

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