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Rich Franklin toe-to-toe with Jorge Rivera at UFC 50

Page 1 - part 1 - 5

Page 2 - part 6 - 8

© Marc Wickert

All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges

Rich Franklin first barnstormed his way into the Octagon at UFC 42 when he defeated the highly respected Evan Tanner by TKO. At just 2.40 into round one, Rich shocked MMA fans with his cool and calculating demolition of Tanner by way of a lightning barrage of strikes.

Franklin later told UFC: "My game plan was not to clench with him Ė not that I didnít think I could clench with him, but it was our game plan to stay out of what he does best. And thatís what we stuck to. And the plan just unfolded perfectly my way."

Richís next Octagon appearance was against Edwin ĎBaby Faceí Dewes at UFC 44. Having nursed a groin injury for two months prior to the match, the well-rounded Franklin elected to keep this contest standing. Although Dewes did manage to take Rich down at 4.45 into the fight, Franklin had them back on their feet at 4.02.

Rich then proceeded to unleash a ballistic barrage of fists and knees on his opponent, until the referee rescued Edwin at 3.35 due to another dynamic Franklin TKO. Like the Seventh Son, Rich Franklin was here!

Also on the UFC 44 card was Jorge Rivera, who defeated the formidable David "The Crow" Loiseau. For three rounds of their bout The Crow attempted to perform cerebral surgery on Rivera, using his right elbow as a trepan. But Jorge withstood the attack and won by unanimous decision.

When Franklin and Rivera were billed for UFC 50, many in the Atlantic City crowd thought this bout would be The War of í04. And few fans were disappointed. After nearly three rounds of full-on action, Rich submitted Jorge by arm bar with just 32 seconds remaining in the final round.

Rich Franklin in ground battle with Jorge Rivera

Born in Kentucky, Franklin now fights out of Cincinnati, Ohio, and took up a martial art during his mid teens. "I was an athlete in high school and I just wanted to be involved in something athletic after school, so I decided to get into martial arts. I wanted a football scholarship, but it just wasnít working out for me. So the year after I left school I got into martial arts, and Iíve been doing it for about fifteen years now."

With a bachelorís degree in mathematics and a masterís degree in education, unlike many fighters of the past, Rich is typical of the new-age Ďsuper athleteí who uses a well-proportioned combination of brawn and brain to battle it out in the Octagon. But Franklin is not surprised so many other Mixed Martial Artists are articulate and educated.

"A lot of fighters involved in this sport went through college and are former college athletes. I think the difference with boxers is that, from the age of twelve or thirteen, they are bred for boxing. And thatís all they do. In the sport of Mixed Martial Arts youíve got guys who were collegiate wrestlers or involved in some other sport while earning their degrees."

Commentators and combatants alike have often stated how unnerving it can be for a fighter to make his Octagon debut, but when Franklin entered the UFC cage for his first bout, he appeared extremely poised despite being matched against the highly regarded Evan Tanner.

"We fought down there in Miami at the American Airlines Arena. That wasnít the first big show Iíd competed in. Iíd fought in several other shows where there were cameras in your face, but at the time I was pretty well unknown on an international level."

Having won his first two UFC matches by TKO, Rich says the knockout is his preferred vehicle of destruction, and admits he had hoped to seal his bout with Jorge Rivera in the same way. "I like to keep my fights on the feet and knock my opponents out, because itís more exciting for the crowd, and any time you can do that youíre a crowd favourite.

"Prior to the Rivera fight I was odds-on favourite, and I knew that was not very accurate, because he's a tough fighter and youíve got to give him credit; but I felt in my heart that I could beat him. And I tried to knock him out. But I couldnít."

Stamina appeared to play an important factor in the dying minutes of the match, and Rich agrees, saying he felt fine and could have gone another round, whereas Jorge had to resort to going on the defensive and trying to hang in there, before being submitted by Franklin.

Rich Franklin ground'n'pounding Jorge Rivera

Although Rich has won most of his bouts through striking, he is known as a well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist, and says his entire ground game is based around Jiu Jitsu, with his having taken up the style 10 years ago.

He was fresh out of high school and practising the traditional martial art of Shorin-Ryu, before he became involved in Muay Thai, and later took up BJJ after observing Royce Gracieís success in the early UFCs.

Rich, is being a southpaw an advantage in your fights?

"I would say so, only because if Iím fighting conventional fighters, all day Iím training with conventional fighters. But theyíre also training with conventional fighters. So theyíre not used to trading with southpaws. But when I fight another southpaw, I have about as much experience fighting a southpaw as a conventional fighter does. So itís not so much of an advantage for me then."

Team Quest members Evan Tanner and Matt Lindland have both said theyíd like a match against you. Did you do anything to upset those guys?

"Iím sure I havenít. Matt and Evan, theyíre good guys, but in this sport everybody is competitive, and if you go out there and you want to be remembered as a great fighter, other great fighters are going to want to fight you."

Is there anything youíd like to add to this article?

"My manager and I are working on some stuff for the next UFC in February. I hope to be a part of that show. And tell my fans I said hello, and to keep an eye out for me at UFC 51. Iíd also like to say thanks to my sponsors: Tap Out, damagewear.com, and Biz."

For more on Rich Franklin and UFC 51: Super Saturday Ė www.ufc.tv.







Part 2

"Itís Not Going the Distance"

© Marc Wickert 

All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges

The final episode of UFC/Spike TVís hugely successful Ultimate Fighter series is to be televised April 9, 2005. And a special-feature bout has been scheduled between two of MMAís most popular athletes: Rich Franklin and Ken Shamrock.

Not only did this bonus bout come as an unexpected treat for UFC fans, but it also took Franklin by surprise.

"It looked like it was going to be Tito fighting Ken at first, but he didnít sign the contract. When Tito didnít sign, it surprised me a little that UFC chose me to fight Ken. But thatís fine they did. Iím ready to go," says Rich.

Both Franklin and Shamrock will have to compromise with their weights to fight in the light-heavyweight division. Rich will be going up from middleweight class, which he last fought at against Jorge Rivera in UFC 50. And Ken will have to come down from the heavyweight division that he last competed at, in UFC 48, against Kimo Leopoldo.

Rich has fought at the heavier weight class before and says going back up a division will not be a problem: "I donít know if I have any intention of staying at the light heavyweight class, but for this particular fight, thatís fine."

Ken Shamrock is renowned for his superb stamina, and said when he last fought Kimo, he could hear him gasping for air, while he was still breathing normally himself. And Rich used his high level of fitness as a weapon against Rivera, when he defeated Jorge in the third round of their non-stop battle.

But Franklin doesnít believe cardio will be a deciding factor in his match with Shamrock, and suggests both men will be at a similar fitness level. "I would think so . I donít think heíll be taking me for granted or lightly. Iím sure he will be coming into the fight in as good a shape as I am. And I know I have to be in good shape, because heís going to be strong, so Iím going to be relying on my endurance being good."

And while Kenís opponents and training partners have all commented on his incredible strength, Rich is not fazed by this: "I donít think Iím going to stack up badly strengthwise against him. I think that Ken will be a little stronger than I am, but weíll see how he is in the third round.

"I expect heíll come at me hard and possibly try to stand with me, but heís got great wrestling skills, so if itís not working for him, heíll probably try to take me down. And if it does end up on the ground, Iíll have to avoid the ankle locks and do what I do best on the ground, which is using my Jiu Jitsu skills."

Rich includes swimming in his weekly workouts and tends to do weight-training exercises that will work his bodyís larger, core muscle groups.

"We follow a good weight regimen incorporating heavy lifting and endurance training that will also help us with getting out of holds and stuff like that. You know, fighting isnít all about how much you can bench or squat, but how well the muscles perform in there. Any kind of power movement or compound motion for the muscles - thatís what Iím really into.

"We do a total body workout three times a week, rather than one body part a day. So we usually take the compound motions where, if itís chest weíll do bench press, or if itís back we might do deadlifts or cleans. But we try to stick with the compound motions as much as we can."

Rich Franklin applies arm bar to Jorge Rivera

Rich, do you have a preference for the fight to be standing or on the ground?

"I always say in interviews that I prefer a fight to be on the feet, only because itís more exciting for the fans."

But the fact that itís going to be you and Ken in there will automatically make it very exciting for the fans, wonít it?

"Oh definitely. I would assume itís not going to be one of those fights where one of us is lying on top of the other, and itís just body against body for the whole round. I think thereís going to be a lot of action."

What did you think of the Evan Tanner vs David Terrell fight?

"It surprised me. I thought when Terrell had that choke on and it went to the ground, that it was going to be the end of the fight. But Evan was able to get out of it."

Rich, how are you going to win your fight against Ken Shamrock?

"Iím going to do my best to knock him out, but if it ends up on the groundÖKenís a strong guy. I donít see him standing there and letting me punch on him all night, so I imagine it will end up on the ground. Iíll tell you this: Itís definitely not going to go the distance."

Youíre determined to mix it up then?

"Iím determined to not let it go the distance, thatís all."

Your sponsors?

"Tap Out, damagewear.com, Biz, and Gordon Biersch."


For more on Rich Franklin and UFC 52 - www.ufc.tv




Part 3
The Amphibious MMA Champion

Rich Franklin retains his Middleweight Belt at UFC 56
© Marc Wickert 
All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges

When UFC World Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin isnít incorporating gruelling laps of the pool in his workouts, chances are heíll be feasting on all sorts of exotic seafood provided by sponsor, Anova Food.

And since Rich first made his UFC debut, he has fought like a Great White against creditable opponents: Evan Tanner (twice), Edwin Dewees, Jorge Rivera, Ken Shamrock, and Nate Quarry. But where some fighters seem to get an easy match-up here and there, Rich agrees his Octagon time has been spent at the deep end. "Theyíve been formidable opponents, Iíll say that much," says Franklin.

Recently thereís been speculation that Canadaís David Loiseau could be the next big fish to challenge Rich for his middleweight belt. But Franklin cannot confirm the bout: "I have not actually put ink to paper yet. It has been talked about, and from my understanding, at this point in time, UFC has not set a date, or a venue, for the match." (Please check and of article for Franklin vs Loiseau update).

Regardless of who the next challenger might be, Rich is not phased. Being a true champion, he is prepared to face anybody to defend the title. "This is my job Ė to fight the best. I think David should be a great opponent; it should be an exciting fight - and David is the next one in line."

On February 4, 2006, Chuck Liddell will be defending his light-heavyweight title against former light-heavyweight champion, Randy Couture. And at The Ultimate Fighter, Franklin defeated Ken Shamrock after Ken came down from heavyweight division and Rich went up from middleweight. However, Franklin says he has no immediate plans to return to light heavyweight, and challenge the winner of the Liddell vs Couture III match.

"I donít think thatís a goal that I have in mind at this point in my career. I just won the belt (middleweight) and defended it. And Iíd like to defend the belt in my weight class several times before I think about jumping around and trying anything silly. Chuckís a great fighter and I want to be a great fighter in my division."

Rich, are you expecting it to go Chuckís way this time?

"Iím not really sure. You know: Randyís going to come in with his game plan, and heís going to try to close the distance and take Chuck down. And Chuckís going to come in with his game plan. It should be a very interesting match."

Youíll be there for it?

"I should be there Ė yes, sir."

And are you with Tim Sylvia now for his fight against Assuerio Silva?

"No, Iím at home in Cincinnati. I will be in his corner on January 16."

Will you be working with him before that?

"He came down to Cincinnati for about a week. And Iíve always trained with him here and there, but I should be working with him again on the 12th or 13th."

What area are you mainly assisting Tim in?

"Well, when he comes to Cincinnati, Iím just a good training partner for him, but when he and I get to Las Vegas, Iíll primarily be holding mitts for him and running time..."

So youíre not assisting him in a specific area Ė such as with his Jiu Jitsu, say?

"No, not in particular. At that point in time, when you get that close to a fight, thereís not really that much he can do. My trying to teach him anything like that, that close to a fight, would be too late."

How did you link up with Tim originally?

"Monte Cox also manages Tim, and when I first started fighting, I used to go to the Miletich camp to train occasionally with Pat, Jeremy, Tim, and all the other guys there. Tim and I just hit it off and weíd be at the same fights time after timeÖWe just got along with each other."

Rich Franklin vs Nate Quarry

Whatís the connection with Billy Rush?

"Billy lives here in Cincinnati. I met him when I came here to train at Jorge Gurgelís school. Billy had offered me diet and nutritional advice, strength and conditioning advice. After talking with him for a little while, I realised he really knows his stuff, and we developed a close friendship. For a while there he was taking care of my strength and conditioning, and giving me nutritional adviceÖHe was taking care of me leading up to my fights."

Were you with Tim for his bout against Tra Teligman?

"Yes I was."

It was a new Tim Sylvia, wasnít it?

"Yeah, he was great."

How do you expect his upcoming match against Silva to unfold on January 18?

"You know, I think heíll come out the same way he always does: Heís probably going toÖI havenít talked a whole lot of strategy with him. And if I had, I probably wouldnít be talking about it in an interview. But heíll probably be throwing punches like he always does. Iíll tell you one thing though: Heís had impeccable timing in the ring during sparring. And he has a definite height advantage on Silva."

Youíre also linked with Joe Riggs, arenít you?

"Joeís been working with Billy, so sometimes he comes into town to be with Billy, and heís a great training partner."

Heís only 23. What sort of a future would you say Joe has ahead of him?

"Heís a young guy, heís heavy handed, and heís well rounded, so as long as he keeps himself healthyÖA lot of things can happen, but as long as he keeps himself healthy and injury free, he should be fine."

And for Rich Franklin, you donít know what your next fight is going to be. You just know youíre going to be defending your middleweight title.

"More than likely, it will be against David Loiseau, but I still havenít put ink to paper, so technically: I donít know yet."

Rich, is there anything youíd like to add?

"Just to tell the fans to come along to my next fight. Itís great to have their support."

Your sponsors?

"Tap Out, americanfighter.com, biz, gordon biersch, xyience, and anovafood.com."


For more on Rich Franklin: www.richfranklin.com

For more on UFC: www.ufc.tv.



Rich will be defending his Middleweight Title against David Loiseau on March 4, 2006, at the Mandalay Bay.




Part 4
The Dismantling Strategist
© Marc Wickert
24 February, 2006
All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges

There are just eight days to go before UFCís World Middleweight Champion, Rich Franklin, puts his title on the line against David "The Crow" Loiseau.

At the time of this interview, Rich is at home in Cincinnati, Ohio. "Today, I was just checking emails and doing business stuff," says Franklin. "After Iím done talking to you, Iím going to grab a bite to eat, then go and train. Iíll do some treadmill and some lifting Ė thatís about it."

A professional athlete, with a bachelorís degree in mathematics and a masterís degree in education, Rich always seems to have a way of dissecting his opponentís game and coming up with a counter strategy. But what does this "Thinking-Manís Fighter" do to chill out when not preparing for the Octagon?

"My wife and I will go to movies, and I like hanging out with my buddies. It just depends. I also like to study my Portuguese and read the Bible. Iím trying to learn Portuguese, but itís a very complex language.

"My buddy, Jorge Gurgel (www.jorgegurgel.com), is from Brazil and he speaks Portuguese. Because I have a friend whoís from another country - speaking another language, I kinda like to immerse myself in that culture. Iím one of those people, who, when I spend free time doing something, I want to be constructive."

As the Ultimate Fighting Championshipís middleweight champion, Rich is a pioneer of one of the worldís fastest growing sports Ė Mixed Martial Arts. And although the first UFC was only held in 1993, Franklin says most folks in Las Vegas are aware of the upcoming UFCs and its athletes.

"The people in Vegas know because itís on the billboards, the taxis, the lit-up boardsÖItís everywhere out there. So the people know who you are and itís hard to make your way around Ė especially when it gets closer to a fight and more and more fight fans start arriving."

Although this new popularity of the sport and its athletes is very positive, it can also be daunting for the fighters in their lead up to a crucial match. "I like the fans, and I always take time for the fans. But it becomes a little problematic the week of your fight Ė especially for me, only because Iím cutting weight; Iíve restricted nutrition; Iíve restricted water; and thatís something physically that wears on you.

"So oftentimes when you run into fans, you may not be in the best of moods, or you might be tired, and that makes it kind of difficult. And I never want to leave a fan with a negative impression because Iím having trouble cutting weight."

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the public can have a tendency to overlook the reality that these great athletes are also humans like themselves - with emotions and their own lives to lead - rather than just public figures. "You know, I think people tend to forget about that. They view you as a sports figure, and they donít think about the fact that you go home, and youíre pretty much like every person thatís watching the show."

Through the evolution of MMA since 1993, its hybrid fighters have become some of the worldís fittest athletes. And Rich Franklin epitomises this new Ďsuper athleteí.

Rich, you incorporate a lot of swimming in your training, donít you?

"You know what - I do. But for this fight particularly, I have not, due to the time factor. And none of the gyms I train at have a pool, so when I want to swim, I have to go to a different gym. Generally Iím getting to a point where Iím so limited on time. Itís getting harder and harder to make my way to different gyms."

When you are able to swim, do you find it enables you to work your cardio and body hard, while keeping relatively injury free?

"Swimming is a great form of conditioning because itís an aerobic and anaerobic workout at the same time: You work both the cardio-system and the muscles. You get the best of both worlds, plus itís a no-impact conditioning exercise. You donít have to worry about a lot of banging on your knees, ankles, elbowsÖ"

What style do you do?

"Freestyle. Iím not a good enough swimmer toÖOccasionally Iíll do breaststroke, but for a butterfly or backstroke, Iím not technically a good enough swimmer to keep doing those styles for quality exercise."

Is treadmill your main cardio wor, now?

"My main cardio is my sparring, grappling and wrestling. But as far as cross-conditioning, yes, treadmill work. Here in Cincinatti itís wintertime, so I canít run outside a whole lot. But in the summertime, when itís warm out, instead of running on a treadmill I might play some basketball or something thatís more fun."

David Loiseau said that neither you nor he are boring fighters, and that this should be a great fight for the fans. Do you agree with that?

"Completely. We both like to stand up, neither one of us is afraid to get hit, and we take chances in the ring, so it should make for an interesting fight."

Will David want to take you out fast with elbows and knees?

"I donít really know what his game plan is. I can see him trying to clinch with me on the feet Ė using elbows and knees from the clinch. I can see him trying to shoot in and take me down to use elbows from the guard. But I donít know what heís planning on."

You demonstrated against Nate Quarry that youíre no slouch at striking. Can you match David in the stand-up game?

"I think so. David and I bring different things to the table. You know, heís the kinda guy who throws a lot of elbows and knees, and I throw more hands and use my jab. I think my striking is effective and I think his striking is effective. It will just come down to who can pull the game off that night."

If you win this one, will it show that you are a true caretaker of the belt and not just a passing champion?

"I donít know. I think there will always be critics out there who wonít give credit where creditís due. There was talk that the 185-lb belt could not be defended because there was a curse on it, or something like that. And of course, Iíve broken that, and defended the belt. Now there are still doubts. This is something all athletes deal with throughout their careers."

Who are you tipping out of Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn?

"I donít really know. Georges is on a roll right now and heís unstoppable. BJ is a guy you can never count out of the equation. Really, if I were a gambling man, that is not a fight I would gamble on."

Can you see your bout with David Loiseau going five rounds?

"Anythingís possible. Iíll say this much: Iíve never had a fight go to the decision in my career yet, so I donít see why Iím going to start that trend now."

Your sponsors?

"Xyience, Tapout, my clothing line Ė American Fighter, and anovafood.com. Iíll tell you what, anovafood have been good to me, man. And they send me tons of seafood Ė fresh tuna steaks and stuff like that. Their food, not only does it taste great but itís clean too, and perfect for my diet."

Rich, is there anything youíd like to add?

"Just tell the fans out there I hope they get to see a good fight Saturday. Iíll do my best to put on a good show for them. Thanks for the support."

Interestingly, Richís fans come from all walks of life, as stated at Franklinís web site:

"The Mayor of Cincinnati has announced that February 21st, 2006 is officially American Fighter/ Rich Franklin Day in the city of Cincinnati. This is quite an honor - one that doesn't come to many people. A special announcement was made on 1360 Homer as Rich talked with Lance McAlister on the radio. Congrats to Rich. Keep doing good things for American Fighter and for the ĎKeep it in the Ringí Foundation."

For more on Rich Franklin: www.richfranklin.com

For more on UFC 58: www.knucklepit.com









Behind the Scenes of www.richfranklin.com







© Marc Wickert 
March 30, 2007

All photos copyright 2004 Zuffa LLC
Photography by Joshua Hedges


For this interview with Rich Franklin, weíll be having a close-up look at Richís new website: www.richfranklin.com, and asking him to give a little more detail to some of the photos on his site Ė particularly the excellent training shots.


Rich is in his office at home in Cincinnati, having returned from Ďtime outí after convincingly defeating Jason McDonald at UFC 68. ďI just stepped off a plane less than an hour ago. My wife and I went to Alaska to visit some friends for a weekís vacation, and it was great being out of contact with the world for a week,Ē says Franklin.


Rich wonít be training today as he has to go to LA, but he will be lifting once or twice over the next seven days, and says it will primarily be a cardio week for him. And he is happy with his latest victory, saying, ďAnytime I win without a major injury to myself or my opponent... I thank God.Ē


In Franklinís previous fight he lost his UFC middleweight title to Anderson Silva, then Rich seemed to pull out all stops against Jason. This was also the first bout for Matt Hughes since losing his title, but he seemed to fight a safer fight for his comeback against Chris Lytle.


So was Rich determined to show in dynamic fashion that he was definitely back and on track to reclaim his title? ďI had no real Ďextraí motivation... just back to looking like myself again,Ē says Franklin.


Franklin now says, ďI am excited about a rematchĒ, but when asked if he knows when his next fight will be or who his opponent will be, he answers, ďI read rumors every day, but know no details yet.Ē


Rich, at  www.richfranklin.com  it shows you using a sledgehammer on the rubber mats. I know Ken Norton used to drive posts into the ground with a sledgehammer and there are photos of Renzo Gracieís fighters pounding tractor tires the same way. What is the purpose of this exercise?


ďIt is a great conditioning exercise...for both cardio and muscle endurance.Ē


What training do you do with Joe Doerksen?


ďJoe came down from Canada to help me prepare for Jason McDonald. He was a key asset to my training and gave me some insight on Jason's style. Joe and I have been friends for a long time, weíre both managed by Monte Cox, and I would return the favor to him if he ever needs me.Ē



How long have you been with coach Rob Radford? Does he concentrate on the Thai boxing with you, or grappling as well?


ďRob is my boxing coach. I have been working with him for almost four years now.  Neal Rowe is my Thai coach, and I have been working with him for two to three years. I like to specialize my training... go to the best of each style.Ē


Do you tend to do your running on the treadmill mainly, or do you also run outdoors?


ďIt depends on the season. I hate running in the cold, so I primarily run on the treadmill in the winter. I love the sun, so I spend my summers outside.Ē


In the photos on your site, thereís a cord held above you while youíre doing push-ups. Is that so you canít lock your elbows and take the pressure off? Are you doing push-ups on their own, or do you include them in burpees?


ďIím actually logging onto my website to understand what you are talking aboutÖ I was doing over/unders. I jump over the rope and sprawl underneath it.  It is a great conditioning exercise.Ē


Thereís also a photo of you carrying a green bag. What is the purpose of that exercise? Could you give some more details of that exercise, please, Rich?


ďIt is a duffle bag filled to approximately 60% capacity. The bag itself weighs about 70 lbs, but the instability makes it very difficult to pick up. All the exercises you see me doing with Rob are part of a conditioning routine he puts me through. It usually consists of six or seven different exercises that we do for time, and keep heart rate markers.Ē


Do you know where I can pick up a good, sturdy vehicle in the $80,000 price range?


ďE-bay, but mine is not for sale.  I decided to keep it.Ē


Rich, is there anything youíd like to add?


ďThanks to the fans for the support.Ē 




ďI should give a plug for my sponsors... however, if you don't know about American Fighter, Tapout, or Xyience by now, then what's the use? God bless.Ē





For more on Rich Franklin: www.richfranklin.com

Review of Rich at UFC 68: www.knucklepit.com/mixed-martial-arts-ufc_68.htm

For more on UFC: www.ufc.tv.  





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