by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Teaching has always come natural to Rich Franklin. From his days as a math teacher back in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, the former UFC middleweight champion has always taken to his ability to teach and help a new generation learn.
During the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, Franklin took his teaching skills to the mat and helped a group of young fighters follow their dreams in making it to the UFC. Fighters eager to learn under Franklin included Marcus Davis, Keith Jardine, Seth Petruzelli, and new UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.
Since then Franklin has had a very busy and storied career, but the chance to revisit the days of The Ultimate Fighter don’t particularly excite the Ohio native, as he is set to do that very thing if he defeats Dan Henderson at UFC 93 in Ireland.
“I was really excited to do the first season,” Franklin said recently. “I had never done anything like that before and it was a cool experience having never done it, but going back and doing it again, no I’m not really excited about it.
“It’s six weeks in Vegas. I’ve lived there for six weeks before and I’m constantly in Vegas. I’ve gotten to the point where I could care less for staying in Vegas for that kind of extended period of time. It’s time away from my family, time away from either things that I like doing or things that I can do to make money, and the show doesn’t pay real well. I’ve had the experience before, so it’s not as appealing. Anything the UFC asks me to do, I’m always on board for because they’ve always been good to me.”
UFC president Dana White has stated on numerous occasions that the winner of the Franklin vs. Henderson bout would coach on one side, while British star Michael Bisping would contend with his team from across the pond in England. Franklin says it’s business and he’ll do what the UFC asks of him.
“I have not myself spoken to Dana or the UFC or any of the production people about the show. The winner of my fight with Dan here would be the coach of the show. I guess more than likely whoever between Dan and I wins would do that fight at 185 pounds,” Franklin stated. “So how that makes sense to me I’m not sure.
“That’s why I’m kind of taking everything one fight at a time. So if the UFC comes to me and says hey we’re going to do this Bisping fight, it will be at 185 pounds, then it is what it is. That’s what I’ll do.”
First things first, Franklin must prepare for life back at 205 pounds and the fight against Dan Henderson. Following two losses to middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Franklin admits the UFC had a hand in his eventual return to the light heavyweight division.
“I started my career at 205 pounds. I moved down to 185. UFC encouraged me to move back up to 205 after my second loss to (Anderson) Silva, which I did, so I’m kind of at a weight where I’m in between both of the weight classes,” Franklin commented. “It’s difficult for me to make 185, but I’m a small 205-pound fighter. I just take the fights as they come.
“The UFC offered me the fight with Dan and after everything was lined up they came back and said do you want to do the fight at 185 or 205? Since they had encouraged me to make the move to 205 pounds, I said well I’m here, I might as well stay here.”
The fight against Henderson will indeed take place at 205 pounds, but presumably if he wins, Franklin would then drop back down to 185 for a fight against fellow coach Michael Bisping. While both fights are pivotal to two different weight classes, Franklin isn’t under any pressure to feel like it’s a title elimination situation for either fight.
“I never really particularly viewed the fight as an eliminator for either weight class,” he said. “The way I view this fight is Dan’s a tough opponent. He’s somebody that comes into this fight with a lot of credentials, so it’s going to make for a great fight. Win or lose for me, it’s just another fight.”
Rich Franklin battles Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, Jan. 17.