Rich Franklin Pondering Retirement, but a Fight with Michael Bisping Piques His Interest

May 8, 2013
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Rich Franklin at UFC 53When Rich Franklin finally decides to quit fighting, he will walk straight into the UFC Hall of Fame. He’ll be able to reflect back on a glorious career that has entrenched him as one of the finest middleweights in the history of the sport.

But he’s not done just yet.

The former UFC 185-pound champion knows that another title run is now beyond his reach, but before he hangs up his gloves there is at least one piece of business he would like to attend to.

“I look at my Twitter and a lot of people talk about (Michael) Bisping,” said Franklin. “That would be an exciting fight and something the fans would want to see. I’m an exciting fighter, he’s an exciting fighter, and we both like to throw down.”

Both Bisping and Franklin have alternated between wins and losses in their last few fights, so it is a match-up could make sense. Regardless of whether Franklin’s wish is granted, he knows his Octagon days are numbered.

“I wake up with bumps and bruises and aches and pains, but I feel pretty good at this age, and I know that if I train for another five years, it’s really going to tear into me,” said the 38-year-old former schoolteacher. “I can feel a difference now preparing for a fight as opposed to even three, four or five years ago. There’s a big difference.”

Franklin said that his next fight could well be his last, although he could stretch to one more after that depending on a number of factors.

“I’m not sure if I have one or two more fights left on my UFC contract, but do I fulfill the contract or just do one more fight and then retire?” he pondered. “I think about these things on a daily basis, but my intent at this point in time is to fight again. The uncertainty is more about the fact that I know I’m not going to put the time in to get all the way back to the title, not this late in the game.”

After being beaten not once but twice by Anderson Silva, it seemed Franklin’s middleweight career was at an end, as he moved up to 205 pounds at the urging of the UFC matchmakers. After competing regularly in catchweight bouts, he dropped back down to the division where he made his name to face Cung Le last year, headlining the UFC’s first event ever in China.

It was supposed to be the start of one last title run, but a first-round knockout at the hands of Le cast those plans aside. Franklin realizes that the middleweight belt is now out of his reach.

“After my last fight, the timetable for me to recapture the 185 title has been way set back. I’m at a point where I’m not going to put in two, two-and-a-half years to get back at a title shot. I know I don’t have that in me, so now I’m faced with a decision: ‘what do I do?’”

Something Franklin won’t be doing is fighting for an organization other than the UFC.

His recent appearance as a guest speaker at the One Asia MMA Summit raised some eyebrows, but he is a regular visitor to Singapore and says he was just doing a favor for a friend.

“I came down here as a personal favor to Chatri (Sityodtong, owner of Evolve MMA in Singapore) to speak at this thing and so there was no intent of coming over to One FC or anything like that,” said Franklin.

“I came down to Singapore with Matt Hume a couple of years ago to teach a seminar at Evolve and I was really impressed with the facility and the instructors. There’s a good atmosphere and they’ve got good talent, so sometime later I came down and did my camp for Wanderlei when I fought in Brazil and then I did the same thing for Cung.”

One FC organized the summit. It featured Franklin as one of the speakers, alongside Renzo Gracie, Matt Hume and Bruce Lee’s brother, Robert Lee. Franklin spoke about his journey from schoolteacher to mixed martial artist. He had some keen advice for any aspiring fighters looking to follow in his footsteps.

“If you want to make it to the big show in the U.S., there are so many different organizations that it’s almost necessary to have a dozen or a couple of dozen amateur fights because a ton of guys end up on TUF and you see their records are 3-1 or 4-0 and then they get in the UFC and they burn out after two fights because they don’t have the experience to move forward the way they need to once they get in that upper echelon.”

Franklin is not looking for fights at the moment, purely because his is on the verge of launching a new business venture and doesn’t have enough time to train properly.

“We are building this organic juice concept and a lot of my energy is focused on that. So the training that I’m doing is more recreational rather than specified fight training, and I know while I’m doing this for the next month or so I’m not going to be able to concentrate specifically on a fight.”

He made his professional MMA debut in 1999, although, at the time, he was still a full-time schoolteacher. Fighting soon became a full-time job. Franklin doesn’t intend to walk away from the sport altogether once his competitive career comes to an end, but he is looking at alternative means of making money

“(The juice business) will be my next phase,” he said. “In some capacity I’ll be involved in MMA. I’m not sure if I’ll end up commentating or analyzing or whatever way the UFC will end up using me in the future, but I don’t know how financially rewarding that will be. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, so I need to make sure I diversify with my income.”

While selling organic fruit juice might not seem like an obvious choice of direction for a former fighter, Franklin feels that the expertise that has helped him continue to hold his own in the UFC until the age of 38 will serve him well in the next phase of his professional life.

“I’m very passionate about nutrition. I’m a fighter who’s very specific about nutrition and the way that I train and my work ethic. I could stand here and talk nutrition all day with you, so it’s a business that makes sense.”

These business commitments mean Franklin isn’t available to fight at present, but he does aim to be back in action by the end of the year for what could be the final fight of his career. With title talk off the agenda, Franklin has no worries about the rankings or where his next fight leads, but after almost a decade in the UFC’s employ, he’ll remain a loyal servant even in his swansong.

“Since my ultimate goal is not to go back and capture the 185-pound title, it doesn’t really matter to me if it’s at 185 or a catchweight or 205. Wherever the UFC needed me, I would fight, as long as the fight made sense.”

(Article written by James Goyder. Follow @jamesgoyder on Twitter.)

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  • stevemcz11

    I like this fight. It would be a much better UK headliner than Bisping vs Miller

  • biff

    It’s pique

    • Hahaha, I only logged on to say the same thing. PIQUE!

      • urdooomb

        it’s MMAweekly, what do you expect?

  • I still can’t believe Cung KO’d Rich in that fashion. A fight with Bisping would be a very nice fight but I don’t know where it would put Bisping in the division. He’s been waiting a long time to get into title contention and that loss to Vitor set him back a bit. I don’t know if he’ll want to take this fight when he might ask for another top guy to get back into the title picture.

    • Cptmats

      Bisping is a good fighter, not great but good ! However i don’t see him ever cracking top three let alone getting the number one spot !

      • You may not like Bisping but he is up there and has been around a long time so I see him getting another big fight, he is on good terms with the UFC but he is in need off an impressive win. What fight would you like for Franklin? He could be finished soon. I can’t think of anyone off hand who I’m interested in him fighting other then Costa P. Which won’t happen.

        • Lucas Freire

          Give him Alan Belcher. Likes to stand and trade,but isn’t very elusive and agile,coming from two bureaucratic that took him out of the title contention,and top10 bouts. Would be a good “restart” if Franklin wants to achieve something else at the division,and wouldn’t be a stepback for Belcher,as Franklin carries fame.

          • It’s tricky for Rich. At LHW there are interesting fights for him. At MW there are very few but either way he would set back a contender when he won’t be in title contention in either division sorry to say. Franklin vs Leben?

          • Lucas Freire

            That’s why I think Belcher is the bet match-up,with two losses in a row,he’s far far behind on the title contention.

          • It would be a good fight for Belcher and a big name still even if Rich is past his prime.

    • Cereal Killer

      This fight should never be made. Bisping needs to face a serious contender. He loses to all serious contenders.

      • What do you think of Costa P vs Franklin? I know this won’t happen but this match up intrigues me.

        • Cereal Killer

          I don’t think Franklin should be fighting any top ten guys at this point. If he wins, he derails another MW on his way out. If he loses, it doesn’t mean anything for the guy fighting him.

          • With no disrespect to Ace I have to agree with you. He’s had his time.

          • Cereal Killer

            Frank is in Shamrocks place back he fought him. A stepping stone for an up and comer.

      • drkdisciple

        I agree 100%…Beating Franklin who is not top 10, probably not even top 20 proves nothing!

        • Cptmats

          No but losing to Franklin would prove tons !
          I don’t think he could beat Franklin , in which case he prob. doesn’t deserve a top contender.

          • drkdisciple

            Thats why the fight will never happen. Dana wants an excuse to give Bisping a title shot. Beating Franklin proves nothing and losing or even struggling against him pushes Bisping down the contender ladder.

    • It should be a 5 round fight for sure

    • Pizza boy

      Yeah bro me too… It was really devastating for mr to watch one of my favorite fighters getting KO’d like that. Phillipou vs cung le should fight the winner of Rockhold vs VItor in my opinion… What do u think bro?

      • I like Cuny, nice guy, awesome martial artist, but I don’t see him going much further from that win against Franklin. I did count him out and he proved me wrong but that’s just how I feel. Phillipou against Rockhold/Vitor sounds interesting. I would also say Tim Kennedy would be nice as well. I’m just very impressed on how Costa moves for a big MW. His footwork is very nice.

  • badboy171

    Bisbing should take it to have another Legend on his list of fights. He is a great fighter but in my eyes not a champ. I enjoy his fights and his willingness to fight anyone they ask him too so i think he should take the fight.

  • Tiddy28

    This would be an exciting fight, but for Bisping it doesn’t achieve much, aside from beating a well known name. I understand Franklin’s a former champion but beating him now doesn’t really get him any closer to a title shot in my mind. I am not dismissing this as a good fight, I have no doubts it would be, but I think it’s disadvantageous for Bisping in terms of the title picture.

    • ned sto

      This is exactly how I feel about it too.

    • Agent119

      I don’t see Bisping in the title picture. As much as he wants it, he just can’t seem to get that big win.

  • WillyTheKid

    You mean pique.

    • urdooomb

      haha!! I knew it!!

      What was originally written? peaked??

  • El Gvapo

    This could be a smart route for the UFC to go down. Due to the lack of depth at MW, the UFC is gonna need a challenger for Anderson, assuming he beats Weidman. They could easily justify giving Bisping a title shot if he beats Franklin and it would be be a title fight they could easily sell. I don’t think the UFC has much interest in giving Vitor another title fight and, beyond possibly Jacare or Rockhold, there’s not a lot else out there. Plus I think Anderson would be more interested in fighting Bisping than anyone else as it would probably make more money.

    • Cptmats

      “They could easily justify giving Bisping a title shot if he beats Franklin ”

      There is no way a win over a fighter who isn’t even top ten would justify a tittle shot especially after getting KO’d by the number One contender

      • El Gvapo

        Notice how I said “they”? As in the UFC. I don’t think any of us fans would think it’s justified, I just think that’s how the UFC would spin it to us.

        • Cptmats

          I see your logic, Bisping will prob never earn a tittle shot but he may get one anyway !

  • Cptmats

    Neither of these guys are relevant any more. A win over the other wouldn’t mean s*** for either one at this point, How ever i think its a good match up and would be an entertaining fight !

  • Ahmaid Ahdoodi

    Franklin’s a smart guy. Good for him going out on his own terms.

    Personally, I’m up for Bisping vs. Cung Le.

  • Cereal Killer

    This is a perfect fight for Bisping. Another non-top ten fighter for him to beat so his fans can claim he deserves a title a shot. He needs to face a solid top ten fighter. Make Munoz or Philippou. I’d even be happy with Lombard! I think all three of these guys whoop him and silence his overrated tile talk.

    • Lucas Freire

      I know Munoz is UFC’s protegée,but you really think a win against Munoz should give someone a title shot? I mean,his last win was against Leben? lol
      The only “relevant” foe he faced was Maia,and it gave him #2 on title contention? That’s strange.
      As much as someone can say the MW division isn’t good,I don’t see space for Munoz on the top 5 or even top 10 now with the advent of SF fighters.

      • King_DG

        well it worked for Weidman, he’s fighting for a title shot this summer

  • Timothy Malone

    This would be an awesome fight. I hate all the politics and strategizing behind everything now. Everyone saying it shouldn’t happen because “it wouldn’t make sense.”

    It would make sense because it would be two fighters competing to see who is better. Who cares how it specifically impacts the title picture. If you keep winning then you get to fight for the title.

  • Darin

    Mmaweekly: can you please find writers that can fully understand and spell the words they are attempting to use?
    Thank you.

    • Editorial error, not the writer’s fault. But thank you for pointing it out.

      • urdooomb

        I think the errors occur too frequently and are too atrocious to dismiss them as “editorial”.

        I’ve seen some horrible writing here.

  • Title shot talk will only make sense for Bisping, If he avoids Vitor Belfort, who will always remain better then him.

    Having said that, Bisping vs Franklin is a good fight. Bisping vs Cung Lee however, is a better fight, and makes more sense if Bisping eventually wants a title shot.

    Another good opponent for Bisping is Yushin Okami.

  • Milos Rackovic

    This fight doesnt make any sense rite now

  • fighting Micheal Bisbing will make perfect sense!

  • dan

    Franklin never was any good, he’s very clumsy and uncoordinated.he gets hitWay too much, he’s got balls tho

  • johnny

    I would like to see a rematch with cung le, that was about to be a very exciting fight before that surprise k-o came out of nowhere

  • Randi

    He’s washed up!

  • DC

    Hall of Fame?!? Maybe if there was a Hall of Fame for receiving the worst KO’s!!! Machida, Belfort, Le, Silva TWICE!


    shane tried hard just never won.

  • Alan

    If Franklin seriously thought he was going to make another title run at middleweight, it sounds like he may have to worry about early-onset Alzheimers disease.