by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
As mixed martial arts increases in popularity, economic
opportunity, and fan adoration, there’s more of a tendency for some of the
athletes to work harder to build up interest in many of the fights. What’s the
quickest and easiest way to do that? Simple, follow the example of other sports
and ramp up the trash talk.
It happens in nearly every professional sport today, but
it’s notably missing between Rich Franklin and Matt Hamill, who will battle on
Saturday night at UFC 88 in Atlanta.
That’s what happens when friends collide.
The two were both born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and
have trained together, but business is business, leading them to square off in
the Octagon at the Philips Arena.
That’s not to say that there were no reservations on Franklin’s
part. “Yeah, I did (have reservations). I had a ton of reservations about
taking it,” he said of facing his friend. But in the end, as long as Hamill was
okay with it, Franklin was willing to take the fight in his return to the
He really had no choice. He needed a fight at 205 –
Franklin had stalled out in the middleweight class – and Hamill was the
“The 185-pound title is not available to me; the UFC doesn’t
really want to see me fight (middleweight titleholder Anderson) Silva again.” relayed the former
UFC middleweight champion. “So this is basically one way that I can be
proactive about it, instead of just sitting and being a gatekeeper in my weight
Coming from a strong wrestling background where friends
often have to face each other in tournament competition, Hamill wasn’t as
deterred by having to face his longtime friend.
“There was no hesitation, it’s all about business,” he told
MMAWeekly.com. Of course, just starting out his UFC career, he has much
more to gain with in win over Franklin than the rugged veteran has against him.
“A lot of people know Rich Franklin more than me. I’m just
starting my career in the UFC… and I’m just starting to get better and better every
time I fight. So it puts my name out there,” Hamill said frankly.
But he also knows that despite his own athleticism, strong
wrestling skills, and likely advantage in the strength department, Franklin is
an uphill climb for Hamill. “Rich Franklin is really smart and he’s a world-class
striker and he has a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and he has more experience than
I’ve got… I’m going to go out there and do the best that I can.”
As you can see, there is a lot of respect between the two,
which harkens to the roots of mixed martial arts, where there is often a much
higher level of respect than many professional sports.
But that’s what you get when two friends collide in the