Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin has fought all over the world.
Beyond trips all over the United States, he’s fought in Japan, Germany, and Ireland just to name a few destinations, but none have put the pressure on him like fighting at home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Franklin was preparing for the biggest fight of his career, a rematch with Anderson Silva, the man who took his middleweight belt two fights earlier. The stage was set for Franklin to face Silva in his hometown of Cincinnati, but while the crowd was definitely on his side, the distractions leading into the fight did him no favors.
It changed things so much for Franklin leading into that fight, that he’s adamant that fighting in your hometown is not something he’d jump at to do all over again.
“I personally don’t like it,” Franklin told MMAWeekly Radio about fighting in his hometown. “Some people do well with it and others don’t. There is a lot of pressure. I know when I was fighting Anderson (Silva) here in the hometown, I actually left.
“Me and my team here in Cincinnati went to Wyoming, and my coaching staff was with me. Rob Radford, Neal Rowe, Matt Hume, I was working with at the time he came, Jorge Gurgel was there, Mike Ferguson, my strength and conditioning coach, and then I had a dozen training partners. We all picked up and went to Wyoming just to get out of the city.”
Franklin says it really boils down to all the extra commitments that come along with a hometown fight that make it different than any other experience he’s had in his nearly 13-year fighting career.
“There was so much media. I’m doing all this media right now for the Wanderlei fight and this is all national and international media, but the local media that I’ve had to do hasn’t been too burdening at this point in time,” said Franklin.
“But when you’re fighting in your hometown, the amount of local media that you have to do on top of all the other requirements you have, it’s very demanding.”
This time around, Franklin will be playing the other role in the “hometown fight.”
He faces Wanderlei Silva in Brazil, and while their bout takes place in Belo Horizonte, which is not his opponent’s hometown, he’s facing a national hero in his home country.
With that honor also comes a lot of pressure and Franklin knows that all too well. It’s one of many mitigating circumstances that sometimes means the difference between a win and a loss.
These are things that no one can see, but they are there lingering underneath the surface for a fighter, and the end result many times is defeat.
“There’s so many things that can go on in a fighter’s life, like you don’t know how the camp went, is that guy getting along with his wife? Did he just have a close relative that died? Are his kids getting picked on at school? Stuff like that, all these things come into play,” Franklin stated.
“There’s so many other factors that you can’t account for when it comes to those kinds of things so it’s hard to predict those kinds of things.”
After more than a year off from fighting and dropping back down to his old weight class, of course Franklin has to deal with those same kinds of questions, but heading into his bout with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147, he’s not worried about being the hometown hero. He’s not worried about the extra pressure of local media.
Rich Franklin only has to focus on one thing… beating Wanderlei Silva.