by MMAWeekly Radio & Jeff Cain
“A year ago, a year and a half ago, I would have never thought that I would have had a championship belt, and beat Ken Shamrock, and coaching a show. About a year and a half ago I really thought about just hanging it up and quitting. Paydays weren’t going well, and it makes a hard living when you’re fighting for small amounts of money. I have a profession that I can fall back on, but I decided to stick with it, and low and behold here I am.” Rich Franklin told MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio. This is simply a recap of what “Ace” had to say. To hear his interview in it’s entirety, click on the radio archive.

What a difference a year and half can make in Mixed Martial Arts. In the past year Franklin defeated UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock live on national television. He defeated Evan Tanner on pay-per-view to become the UFC Middleweight Champion of the World. He’s one of the coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter” original Spike TV reality show that airs on Monday nights. The UFC Middleweight Champion, and coach of TUF season two, spoke with MMAWeekly about a number of topics; The reality show, Matt Lindland’s release from the UFC, who the middleweight number one contender is now, and much more.

What would mean more to you, dismantling the legend Ken Shamrock on live television, or winning a UFC title? Rich Franklin sees it both ways, but was undecided at the same time. When asked, he answered, “I think in the long run the Shamrock fight will probably end up doing more for my career. I don’t know. I mean the belt, having the belt does a lot for your career. I just don’t know. I don’t know. I’d have to sit back, and watch that unfold, and see.” Questioned which one he’s more proud of, Rich responded, “Probably the belt fight. The belt fight because a lot of people out there expected me to actually beat Ken, and it wasn’t expected that I would beat Evan Tanner.”

There were people who said, after his fight with Ken Shamrock, that the fight was a work. Franklin was asked about the match, and he said, “I looked at the fight on tape, and I talked to John McCarthy about it, but when, not when he threw the head kick, but when he came in for the leg the first time. I don’t know if he was sliding in to wrap around my leg for an ankle lock, or what he was doing, but the way that it appeared on TV because as he was coming in I hit him with a lead hook it looked a little strange. In the fight, at the time, when he hit the ground I thought his knee buckled or something, and I momentarily stopped, but he ankle picked me and pulled me down right away. For any body to think that it was a work, I tell you what, he was wrenching on my ankle as hard as he could, so I don’t think it was worked out in his head, and when he hit his back and I was hitting him from the guard, I was hitting him as hard as I could, so it definitely wasn’t worked from my end.”

As mentioned before, you can see Rich Franklin on “The Ultimate Fighter” Spike TV reality show on Monday nights. Discussing this season of the show, Rich said, “Just by watching the show you can definitely tell there’s a different atmosphere with the fighters. At this point a lot of the fighters look weak, or their heart is not into it, but I think by the end of the season that’s all going to change, and you’ll see them in a different light.”

Franklin further commented, “There was a lot of stress because, you know, we sat down and talked to Dana in those first couple of days and really thought they were going to have trouble editing the first couple of episodes. We just had no clue how they were going to be able to put things together because nothing was going the way that it was planned.”

Rich is of course one of the coaches opposite Matt Hughes on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Franklin explained to MMAWeekly why he picked who he picked, and what his strategy was in choosing his team. He stated, “What I was basically saying was you can take a well conditioned average athlete, and what I said was you have a well conditioned average athlete he’s a dangerous man in the ring. My reason was that we have six weeks. It takes longer than six weeks to prepare for a fight, so if I’m choosing guys who don’t appear to be in great shape for this show I don’t have time to get them in shape, so I’m looking for the heart factor and the conditioning factor when these guys step in the ring. Because you can look at, there’s some guys on the show that are just great technicians, but when they get in the ring, you know, they’re going to fall shy due to conditioning, and I don’t have the time to get those kind of guys in shape.”

We’ve only seen two episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but in the last one Melvin Guillard, one of Franklin’s team members, and one of the biggest personalities on the show thus far, was eliminated by Josh Burkman. Discussing the fight between Guillard and Burkman, Rich stated, “They didn’t show this last week on the show, and maybe they might start with it next week…Melvin had broken his hand in the second round, and he had like three extra knuckles in the back of his hand it was messed up so bad. We didn’t know about that. He never said anything during the fight, so we couldn’t coach him accordingly, but that made a big difference in his performance because for the second round and the third round he just didn’t do much. Didn’t throw many jabs, didn’t work his stand up the way he should have. During the fight that surprised me because he was just standing there. At the end of the second round I told him, look you’ve got to knock this guy out, or you will lose the fight. In the third round he just goes back out there, and continues to stand there. In hindsight, after you find out his hand is broken, it makes sense. You know?”

With the taping of the reality show completed, it’s time for Rich to focus back on his fighting. It was thought by many that Matt Lindland would be Franklin’s next opponent, and first title defense. Lindland being released by the UFC ended any speculation that he’d be fighting Rich Franklin next. Rich was asked about Lindland’s release from the UFC, and he said, “I get in the ring, and I fight who ever they put on the other side of the ring. That’s who I fight, so that’s not one of those things where I’m falling asleep at night losing sleep because they cut him. The one thing I do thing about is the fans out there are going to be thinking now the number one contender is gone…I’m concerned with the fans perspective, but for my own personal benefit or whatever, I don’t care. Who ever they put across from me I’ll fight.”

Now that Lindland is out of the picture, who is the number one contender in the middleweight division? It’s an interesting question. Franklin’s answer was, “I don’t know. I don’t know because I’ve kind of run the scenarios through my head, and we got Tanner and Loiseau who are fighting each other. If Loiseau loses that fight it kind of leaves, if he wins then that can kind of put him in that marquee position, but if not I don’t know what they’re going to do with that. Other than that you’ve got Terrell who has recently had a loss…Marquardt, but I don’t what his standing is with the UFC, and how things are going with the testing and all of that stuff.”

With no real obvious number one contender, will Rich still be fighting in November? “The UFC hasn’t actually come to me yet and said yes we’re putting you on the November card, so I don’t know, but I can’t imagine them not having me fight in November because I’ve been sitting since June now.” Commented Franklin. To hear all of what Rich Franklin has to say, click on the radio archive. You can also see Rich every Monday night in “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV.