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September 29, 2008

If EliteXC has to go down, it will go down fighting

Make sure you have your DVRs set for CBS and EliteXC's final Saturday Night Fights this Saturday. I believe the original deal was set to be four shows on CBS but rumors abound that EliteXC is on its final legs and that CBS is currently unhappy with the circuit after poor ratings for the second show. If this is the end for EliteXC on the national stage, it is certainly going out with a bang.

Promotion has been much better for this show -- Elite XC: Heat. I couldn’t watch NFL games Sunday without seeing Kimbo Slice during every commercial break and plugs for Gina Carano's appearance on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson tonight. I didn’t even know Craig Ferguson still had a show but Carano is going to be on it so check it out tonight (that’s a cheap shot --  Ferguson is OK in my book). I will have a Carano update tomorrow that will touch on the “face of women’s MMA” issue that seems to be lurking in the shadows heading into this fight.

For casual fans, this is what's important: EliteXC has stacked this card (stacked for them at least) as it seems the future of the promotion is hinging on the success of this show. The two biggest stars in the organization, Carano and Kimbo Slice, are in action along with Jake Shields (EXC welterweight champion, who is also one of the top 5 welterweights in the world) and former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski, who still has a deal with Affliction but is fighting former IFL heavyweight champ Roy Nelson.

This isn’t the most technically sound card and the main event is still a complete joke but it should still be a draw. Either way, just because of the importance of this show to EliteXC’s future and because it should be a fairly entertaining night, it’s definitely worth a view.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 3:58 PM | | Comments (2)
        

September 24, 2008

Rampage back in action?

Rumors have been swirling for awhile that we might see Quinton "Rampage" Jackson back in action and sooner rather than later. Wanderlei Silva has been listed as the possible opponent. Some suggested a November return, but that seems to be ruled out by Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole in his latest mailbag.

“A very good source told me on Tuesday he expects Jackson and Silva to fight Jan. 31 (Super Bowl weekend) in Las Vegas in UFC 93. It’s a very fluid situation, but it’s almost certain it won’t happen in November and it’s very unlikely for December.” -Kevin Iole

I heard something similar over the weekend, but these things are really much more fickle than they look sometimes. This plan could change but I really hope it doesn’t because Jackson needs a match that will be bigger than his hype.

If he was to fight someone lower on the totem pole, the focus of the fight would be Jackson’s episode. A rematch with Silva, however, would have plenty of intrigue just as far as the light heavyweight division is concerned, let alone the fact that Silva has smashed him twice (though Rampage has looked better in the UFC than Silva).

This fight needs to happen with the winner taking on Lyoto Machida for a shot at Rashad Evans or Forrest Griffin.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 4:39 PM | | Comments (1)
        

September 23, 2008

Into the debate tank with author Kelly Crigger

Every few weeks I will be debating some of the bigger hot topics in MMA with author Kelly Crigger. Kelly insisted that we jump right in, dispense with the introductions and get to it. So, all I will say is Kelly Crigger is the author of Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts. It's a cool book.

Will Rich Franklin make a difference at 205?

Kelly: Yes, but not for another year or more. Switching weight classes is harder when you have to go up instead of down. Why? Cutting weight is cutting weight, whether it’s down to 185 or 170. But going up usually means the fighter sacrifices size and strength to the bigger guys in the class and Rich’s case is no different. Now that he’s shown he can handle a legit 205-er, he’ll be given a more radical challenge, like Chuck Liddell, Mauricio Rua, Keith Jardine, or "Rampage" Jackson, all of whom have lost their last fight and need to take on a recognizable name to get back in the title hunt. However, Franklin’s not as strong as Rampage, not as fast as Liddell, not as good on the ground as Rua, and not as unpredictable as Jardine, so he has some challenges to overcome first. A Franklin-Lyoto Machida matchup would be good for the fans, but not for Rich since Machida’s stomping of him is still fresh in his mind. I think Franklin will shake up the light heavyweight division, but only after he gets more comfortable at the weight, puts on a little more muscle and stops having nightmares of Anderson Silva.

Mark: Yes, I think he will make a considerable difference. The change of scenery will do him good. He needs to gain weight if he’s ever going to make a run at the ELITE of the class but I think there’s a handful of fighters in the top 10 he could fight right now. Of everyone in that class I think Rampage is the only fighter he wouldn’t have a chance with if he fought him today. Machida might give him problems as well but I think he could defeat Jardine, Rashad Evans, "Shogun" [Rua] (because who knows what he’s even capable of right now), and Liddell. Another media member thinks he would have the easiest time with Wanderlei Silva, but I’m not that comfortable backing him up that far. I certainly feel he’s got more potential at this weight class, which is odd, because this class is the best in the sport. I think what it comes down to is that Anderson Silva is the top fighter in the world right now, he’s a terrible matchup style wise for Franklin and after getting destroyed twice, the UFC won’t give him a third shot. So, he pretty much has to make a difference if he ever wants to be more than a gatekeeper at middleweight.

What WILL Chuck Liddell do now and what SHOULD he do?

Kelly: He’ll continue to fight, but he should change training camps. Liddell was born to scrap. He loves it, he lives it, he won’t stop no matter how many times he gets KO’d, which could be a lot with the talent level out there. So if he’s going to continue to fight, he should train somewhere that’s going to develop him as a fighter, which is clearly not happening in John Hackleman’s Pit anymore. Greg Jackson has figured Liddell out and beaten him twice, so it’s only a matter of time before everyone else does too. He has to change up his game and evolve or he’ll end up like Ken Shamrock. Of course it’s not easy to pull up stakes and move away from the people who made him who he is, but the alternative is a bunch of up-and-comers adding him to their highlight reels and none of us wants to see that. Where should he go? To the man who figured him out-Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, N.M.

Mark: I think he’ll be in Matt Hughes range sooner rather than later. It would suck to see Liddell become a gatekeeper at 205 -- and he’s not there yet -- but after losing three of the last four fights, he could be headed that way before we know it. He can fight as long as he wants to. He’s clearly lost a step but he’s still a top 10 light heavyweight and a huge draw. There are plenty of big-money fights he can still put together so while he may not consistently fare well with the elite of the class, he still can stick around as long as he wants. I think another run as a champ is out of the question. He may win a title fight down the road, but he’s not defending it, especially not for any length of time.

Now that the light heavyweight division has a former “Ultimate Fighter” as its champion, how long before another one nabs a belt?

Kelly: That depends on how brutal the Georges St. Pierre-BJ Penn fight is. Kenny Florian is the most serious contender to Penn’s title in the lightweight division and has earned the right to take on BJ after his superbrawl with GSP. However, that fight has the potential to end someone’s career! If BJ loses again it will create a mental obstacle that he may never overcome because he’s OBSESSED with beating GSP. A loss could open the door for the red-hot Florian and waiting in the wings are Joe Stevenson and Mac Danzig. I think a more likely scenario is Josh Koscheck or Diego Sanchez grabbing the welterweight crown. Both are fierce competitors for GSP and will force him to bring his A game or get KO’d, like Matt Serra did to him.  

Mark: I think it will be much sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, I think it will be in the same weight class. I think Rashad Evans can take down Forrest Griffin and he will be the first one to get a title shot so I don’t see anyone else filling that void. Although I really do like Florian and before Evans took down Liddell I would’ve picked Ken-Flo for this. I could see Penn losing interest in the lightweight division, leaving the door open for Florian to have a title reign.

Is Brock Lesnar versus Randy Couture good for the sport?

Mark: It's great for the sport. Great in that it will be a huge fight and one of the biggest in the sport’s history in terms of pay-per-view buys. Lesnar is a tremendous draw and unlike Kimbo Slice, Brock has actually defeated another practitioner of mixed martial arts. He’s like a Kimbo Slice that can back up the hype because I don’t think this will be an easy fight for Couture, especially with the weight difference. We will either get to see Lesnar take down one of the top heavyweights in the world right now or we will get to see another masterful display by Couture. Either way, the hype may be bigger than the fight, but it will still be one of the biggest fights the UFC has ever put together. Anything that raises awareness for the sport and isn’t a complete sideshow is a good thing.

Kelly: Sure it’s good for the sport, but will hardcore fans like me whine because we don’t think Lesnar deserves to be in the Octagon with Couture? Yep. I’m amazed Couture is even back in the game after taking a nearly holy oath to never wear gloves with UFC emblazoned on them again. The fact of the matter is, the UFC's lawyers wore Couture down. He knew he faced a lengthy court battle with only a 50 percent chance of winning and smartly decided not to waste away his last few fights sitting in a chair when he could be sitting on a mountainous payday. Couture’s and Lesnar’s fans will turn out in record numbers to see this fight, which means the potential for tens of thousands of new MMA fans. Is it a proper heavyweight title fight? Nope. Is it good for MMA? You betcha.

Should the UFC adopt the LPGA rule and force its athletes to learn English?

Mark: I would appreciate this rule as doing interviews through translators and people with thick accents is one of the toughest parts of the job. That being said, I think forcing them to learn English isn’t the route to go. It should be strongly encouraged, just because there’s tons of money to be made for them if they do. I think that’s one of the things that holds MMA back in terms of the national coverage but with the UFC’s global initiative, forcing the guys to learn English may not be as important. Also, with morale down among some fighters as it is, it would probably go over just swell with a lot of foreign guys.

Kelly: I agree that interviewing Anderson Silva or Fedor Emelianenko is tough because of the language barrier. Not hat I’ve ever interviewed either, but I know people who say it sucks and a lot gets lost in translation because of it. MMA has a unique mix of foreign athletes and short-attention span fans (How many of you made it to this last question?). That’s a combination that means as soon as a Brazilian or Japanese fighter opens his mouth in his native tongue, the 18-34 male demographic tunes him out. I don’t think it should be mandatory for them to learn it, but they need to know how many potential fans they’re losing by not learning the language. Most sports fans make snap judgments about an athlete based on a quick interview. In that thirty seconds they decide whether they love him or hate him and by not being able to get your view across, non-English speaking fighters fail to bring more fans into their following. They’re doing themselves a disservice by not learning it.
Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:25 AM | | Comments (0)
        

Out of the darkness

The remnants of Hurricane Ike struck Cincinnati last week, leaving most of the city without power. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever gone through. There were days my house was hotter than 78 degrees thanks to the lack of air conditioning and I had no TV/Internet for more than a week.

I continued to update this blog, but I had to write the entries on paper and the only way to get them on my computer was to staple them to the screen. On a serious note, many people were seriously affected all over the country and my condolences go out to anyone who suffered real hardships as a result of the storm.

Besides, my life took a drastic turn for the better when I went out to Beverly Hills over the weekend to cover the Strikeforce event at the Playboy Mansion, which did not suck (I will have a report on the scene later this week).

There’s a lot of stuff on the horizon here at MMA Stomping Grounds, including a debate between author Kelly Crigger and me, an interview with The Ultimate Fighter season 8 coach Frank Mir, as well as a few other cool things on tap later this week. I’m also hoping to talk to Kimbo Slice before his fight against Ken Shamrock because if it’s the last hurrah for EliteXC, it could be the last time Slice is relevant.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 9:38 AM | | Comments (0)
        

September 8, 2008

UFC 88 quick thoughts

Wow. That’s all you can say after watching Rashad Evans’ knockout of Chuck Liddell. Actually, you could also say “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” which is what everyone said at the viewing party I attended. Evans put himself on the map with the KO of Liddell and now has been granted a shot at Forrest Griffin for the light heavyweight championship. Evans certainly elevated his game to elite status with the win and Liddell is left in a confusing position, having lost three of his last four fights.

He’s not ready to give it up, nor should he, as he’s still top 10 in the weight class and is a huge money draw. Should Forrest lose his belt (I think he will) I imagine the UFC will still get the teacher vs. student bout but with less fanfare.

Dan Henderson didn’t look terrific in his first UFC win in a decade as I thought Rousimar Palhares was going to submit him a couple different times. Fairly forgettable and while he wants a rematch with Silva, I think Silva would finish him quicker the second time around.

On the other hand, I was very impressed with Rich Franklin’s dismantling of Matt Hamill. Hamill took a slight step backwards and it puzzles me why he refuses to take advantage of his wrestling. Franklin, meanwhile, exhibited superior striking and could be a force at the LHW level if he gains some weight. Franklin needed the win more and with it he’s at an exciting crossroads in his career. Ace may still have some gas left in the tank to put together a run for the title.

As for the nitty gritty, gate numbers and fight bonuses, check out MMA Junkie.

Overall, it was a good not great show and worth the money. What did you think? What’s next for Liddell? Will Evans win the title? How far can Franklin go?

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:06 PM | | Comments (1)
        

September 5, 2008

UFC 88: Breakdown, predictions and more

With UFC 88 on the horizon, I decided to break down the top three fights with one of my favorite MMA media-types, author and Fightline.com editorial columnist Kelly Crigger.

Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans


Kelly -- If you’re looking for a classic "Iceman" knockout, this won’t be the fight to watch. Evans should be nicknamed "The Neutralizer" because he is so talented at identifying his opponent’s strengths and rendering them impotent. However, he still lacks the ability to do much more than that and is known for grinding out a fight to a decision. Against a striker like Liddell, Evans is good at moving his head so it doesn't get hit and he can take a punch when it does. But his counter-striking is only average and against Liddell, it will need to be top shelf. Evans was also gun-shy against Tito [Ortiz] and will probably be the same when "The Iceman" stands in front of him. If he manages a takedown, Chuck will use those slippery hips to pop back up and pepper him the same way he did to Wanderlei [Silva], but only with half-hearted shots instead of those patented bombs since Evans is so elusive. I see Chuck pummeling Evans the same way he did against Wanderlei, but I think a decisive win will elude him again.

Mark -- Wow, that was depressing to read. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the fight you’re describing. Liddell really needs this win and he looked good against Wanderlei Silva when his back was against the wall. After his loss to [Keith] Jardine, there was plenty of talk of a potential retirement and a number of people questioning his commitment. Then he came out and had a terrific slugfest with Silva. I feel like Liddell should still have his back against the wall in this fight. Evans is a capable fighter, but not one that should be too tough for Liddell to handle. With a title shot looming on the horizon, I’m sure Liddell’s focus won’t even be a question here. With the money that could be made on the Liddell vs. Griffin fight, followed by a Liddell vs. Anderson Silva or a Liddell vs. Couture match, I’m sure the UFC is trying to keep "The Iceman" focused on the task at hand. To me, that should be enough to neuter "The Neutralizer" and come out with a win. Evans can move well and should try to take this fight to the ground, but I think Liddell will catch him and knock him out in the second.

Kelly -- Liddell vs. Couture IV? Please don’t subject us to that, Dana!

Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares

Kelly -- I don’t see how this fight can do "Hollywood" Henderson any good. The man who once held two Pride belts and was considered the top middleweight in the world has come crashing down off his pedestal and is taking on a virtual unknown (Palhares) whose claim to fame is arm-barring Ivan Salaverry into retirement. The guy is so unknown that except for the Salaverry submission, impressive in its own right, I’m not sure what other skills he has. Of his eight wins, six are by submission. It doesn’t take a Jessica Simpson-type genius to figure out his game plan. Style-wise, it’s a wrestler against a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guy, so I expect to see Henderson on top working his ground-and-pound while Palhares stays on the bottom looking for a submission. In the end, I’m going to pick Dan by third-round technical knockout because his experience is ten times what Palhares brings and he’s proven he can defeat a grappler, unless their last name is Silva or Nogueira.

Mark -- I’m sure if Jessica Simpson was breaking down this fight she would think an arm bar is something that’s connected to her “elbow bone” and that a triangle choke is slang for a kid who performs poorly on math tests. Still, I think she could figure out what Palhares will do. On paper, it would seem like Henderson’s ground-and-pound should be enough to finish off the younger, less-experienced fighter, but I’m going with Palhares in the upset. He’s dangerous and I think Henderson can get sloppy at times. Every good card needs one noticeable upset and it isn’t coming in the Franklin vs. Hamill fight.

Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill

Kelly -- Everyone wants to give Hamill the edge on the ground because of his wrestling background, but let’s not forget that Rich Franklin has nine submissions to his name. Granted, he hasn’t pulled one off against a high-profiled fighter or accomplished one since 2004, but he’s no slouch when the fight transitions to the mat. He stopped Travis Lutter’s takedowns cold. The question in my mind is how he'll perform at 205 pounds, a full twenty pounds heavier than he’s ever fought. His punches will probably be a nanosecond slower, not a problem against an inexperienced guy like Hamill, but a body-size adjustment nonetheless. As crisp as Hamill was against Michael Bisping (a fight he should have won), it also showed his immaturity as a fighter. He stood and traded blows with Bisping and never once even threatened a takedown. Big mistake. Just one takedown might have swayed the judges' decision and Hamill would still be undefeated. This one is close, but I have to go with "Ace" Franklin.

Mark -- I don’t think this one will be as close as many think. The move up in weight should affect Franklin's fight and when I talked to Franklin he said it may be more of an issue if the fight goes longer. It takes a superior fighter to defeat Franklin and while Hamill is very good in my eyes (let’s face it, his loss to Bisping was a joke even if he didn’t have the smartest plan of attack), he’s not elite. Not yet at least. While Franklin does give up a little weight, he should be a little quicker and his striking will be too much for Hamill. I really like Hamill’s upside, but I think this is a bad fight for both fighters. Hamill certainly has the tools to defeat Franklin and could take the decision if he fully utilized his wrestling. I don’t think he will though and "Ace" will come away with a convincing win against an up-and-comer.

The fight to watch -- Nate Marquardt vs. Martin Kampmann

Kelly -- This will either be severe fireworks or severe disappointment on the level of Marcus Davis and Mike Swick (Holy underwhelming fight Batman! I hate it when fans boo, but the lay 'n' pray tactic that Swick used in that one was well deserved). I think this will be the opposite. Marquardt is pissed after his loss on a foul that he didn’t commit at UFC 85 against Thales Leites. He’s going to come out looking for a decisive win and decide to strike with Kampmann instead of go to his specialty, the ground game. Only problem is he’ll eventually run into the formidable weaponry of the only guy who deserves the overused nickname "Hitman." Although he’s only been TKO'd once, Marquardt’s striking isn’t as crisp as Kampmann’s and since he’s coming in ready to fight, I’m predicting he walks into a knockout in the second round.   

Mark -- Great, you just had to bring up something like the Davis vs. Swick fight. Now this one is destined to go the lame route. The last thing we need is more lay 'n' pray (unless it’s being used as a birth control measure). I actually feel Marquardt will take advantage of his ground game but will work in a decent amount of striking as well. I really think he will overwhelm Kampmann, but I agree that it could be one heck of a fight.

Kelly Crigger is a freelance MMA writer and author of "Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts", which is available on Amazon.com.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 6:39 PM | | Comments (6)
        

September 3, 2008

Q&A with Rich Franklin

UFC star Rich Franklin is back in action this Saturday at UFC 88 in Atlanta and will be moving up a weight class. Franklin will be facing a fellow Cincinnatian in light heavyweight Matt Hamill. I recently spoke with Franklin about the match and his career.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Why the move up to 205?

Rich Franklin: I was talking to the UFC after the second [Anderson] Silva loss and they encouraged me to move up to 205. They told me my position there would be more appealing to them from a business perspective. They weren’t interested in a third match between me and Silva and they didn’t want me fighting contenders because I could eliminate possible title fights, so I was stuck in that I was going to be fighting people on the back end of their losses to Silva and I didn’t care for that gatekeeper position. After the Travis Lutter fight, I said I would try my hand at 205 again.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the toughest part of the transition in weight classes?

Rich Franklin: I think that’s a question better suited for September 7, but me giving up some pounds there is quite the adjustment. If I’m carrying an extra 20 pounds in this fight and it goes the full 15 minutes, that takes a toll on conditioning.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think about Matt Hamill?

Rich Franklin: He’s looked great, his success doesn’t surprise me at all. Matt’s an accomplished wrestler and a competitor. The first time I met him it was before he was doing MMA and I said when you’re done wrestling and all that -- he was making run for Athens games -- you ought to give MMA a thought because you could be good at it ... and before I knew it he was in The Ultimate Fighter and his only loss is a controversial one. He’s looked strong.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What would be your ideal fight?

Rich Franklin: I don’t know, it doesn’t really matter to me, I’m really just all about competing and having fun, doing it and putting on good fights for the fans. I’m one of those guys where if fans said “we’d love to see Rich Franklin fight so and so” I’d be in to doing that.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What part of the sport's growth has you the most excited?

Rich Franklin: I would guess the international growth at this point. The international growth the UFC is experiencing is showing how solid the future is going to be for this sport. So that’s great for guys like myself, who 10 years from now, I won't be fighting anymore and having a job within the MMA profession will be a possibility, but it’s also exciting for up-and-coming athletes.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think is the biggest misconception casual sports fans have about MMA?

Rich Franklin: It’s that there are no rules. It’s the funniest thing I hear people talk about. People say, “I’ve seen that you fight in cage and there’s no rules,” and I’m sitting there [thinking] “yeah, exactly.” Quite frankly, the rule book for this sport is complex, more so than for most sports probably.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What is one thing you would want people to know about you?

Rich Franklin: I just think that people see the TV persona that’s developed and although I’m a lot like my TV persona, things get amplified and magnified so to speak, and all that stuff gets taken out of proportion. One aspect of your life seems to overwhelm public perception and they forget about other things. From what they read in newspapers they think they know you, but what it boils down to is they don’t.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Have you ever had any weird requests from fans?

Rich Franklin: Yeah, requests like “can you shave your autograph into my back hair” or stuff like that, it’s really not that bad though. I don’t get, like, women’s panties in the mail or weird fan mail or anything. I have had threatening phone calls to my house on numerous occasions. People call to threaten to kill me or beat me up when I’m not looking. My wife has also had threatening phone calls, which is odd because I’m a fairly well-liked fighter, so its weird. It’s weird having that kind of stuff happen because I come from a normal small town here in Ohio and suddenly my life is blown up and I’m perceived to be way more important than I am.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do people call you a lot like that?

Rich Franklin: It’s kind of out of the blue, it will be three or four in the morning. I had a string of these calls occur over a couple months where they came semi-frequently. Then when I was out of town my wife was getting them. I had a fan who one time did some research and got my home number and called my house. My wife picked up and he said “This is Bob, I’m calling Rich about an interview,” and she said, “OK, who are you with?” He just said, “Oh, with no one, I just wanted to interview him.”

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you have to contact the authorities when you get calls like that or do you just shrug them off?

Rich Franklin: At this point I’ve shrugged them off. It irritates me more than anything else. I don’t know, I guess being a fighter you feel you can take care of yourself anyway, but it’s never gotten to a point where I feel the need to call the police.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Looking on the upside of your fame, what are some of the cooler experiences you’ve been able to have during your time as a fighter?

Rich Franklin:That’s the thing with fame -- there’s the good side and the bad side. The bad side is when you’re out in public you get recognized, I couldn’t go to a club down here in Cincinnati without expecting to take 100 pictures with people on phones so they can put that crap on MySpace. I understand that goes on when I go out. The cool side of it is I’ve been able to do a lot of things most people haven’t. I got to go visit the troops in Iraq in 2006 and I’m getting ready to go back to the Middle East again. I’ve done tons of cool stuff around the military, like going on aircraft carriers and on a basic level I get invited to nice restaurants and people pay for dinner occasionally. You rarely have to wait in line for clubs and stuff like that. As you’re sitting there signing autographs in a club and by time you hit the 50th picture it’s like “at least we didn’t have to wait in line for this place.” Your friends think its more cool than [I do] but it has some perks.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Does the fame ever feel surreal to you?

Rich Franklin:  No, as far as I’m concerned, fame is a fickle thing. One minute people love you, the next they hate you. You always have loyal fans that think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, but really, 99 percent of my life I’m just your average guy. I’m sitting at my home today wondering if I’m going to have to cut my grass before the fight again. I’m not wanting to have to sit on my tractor for a couple hours in the sun doing it but that’s my typical life. It’s pretty normal and things will be more that way once I’m out of limelight and retire. For most part people will forget about you. I sign autographs not because it does anything for my ego but because the people that ask you for it wouldn’t understand if you didn’t sign it, and I want fans to have a good experience when they meet me.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the toughest part about being Rich Franklin?

Rich Franklin: Juggling all the aspects of my life. So many people want your time. Once you gain some notoriety or perceived importance everyone wants or needs you. You have appearances for this charity or sign autographs for this or make appearances at this fight. I need to go visit the troops and I need to train and I need to do PR work for my fights but on top of everything else I need to make time for everything else -- family, friends and training and its difficult to juggle all of that.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you follow MMA much when you aren’t training/fighting?

Rich Franklin:Yes and no. I watch the bigger fights but there’s so much stuff. MMA has exploded so much that you could sit down and you got your Versus channel and your HDnet and the UFC and the WEC and all these other shows and acronyms. If you DVR’d everything on MMA on TV you could watch fights nonstop in your waking hours. I spend so much time in the gym training that sometimes the last thing I want to do is come home and watch more fights. I do watch some fights and anytime there’s a WEC and Jens Pulver or one of my friends fighting I’ll catch the show, but I’m always definitely making sure I pay attention to UFC events and major fights.  Honestly, my wife probably keeps up with that way more than I do.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like to do away from fighting?

Rich Franklin: Well, when I’m training, I’m an athlete and an athletic kind of guy so I like to do anything active, but I don’t have the energy when I’m training. I will do things like play my drums, practice my Portuguese. I do often times spend a lot of time reading my bible and stuff like that.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Finally, what do you need to do against Hamill to be successful?

Rich Franklin: I think I gotta be quick on my feet. I’m giving up some weight so he might be giving up some speed. I need to use my footwork to confuse him and stick and move and stick and move and avoid takedowns. Once he does take me down, I can’t let him lay on top of me. I need to stay active on the ground.

Click here for a photo gallery of UFC 88 fighters.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:05 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Q&As
        

September 2, 2008

Report: Randy Couture back in the UFC

One of the biggest dramas surrounding the UFC has been the legal battle with heavyweight champ Randy Couture. He tried to get out of his contract because he felt there was no one left for him to fight in the UFC and wanted the big payday from a match with Fedor Emelianenko.

Yahoo Sports' Steve Cofield is now reporting Couture has agreed to a new deal with the UFC. The agreement will be announced at 3 p.m. EST and Couture's first match is expected to be against heavyweight sensation Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 in November, according to Yahoo Sports. Couture-Lesnar would be a very intriguing fight but I have to believe the UFC made some sort of promise to get Fedor so they can make the super fight happen under the UFC banner.

Members of the media received an e-mail from the UFC this morning advising of a conference call at 3 p.m. where president Dana White will make a “major UFC announcement." This will be his second straight “major announcement” that actually lives up to the hype.

Fedor-Couture would’ve been the biggest fight Affliction or any other competing promotion could’ve put together. If the UFC has taken that away, it's is a major coup for White and company.


The details of Couture’s new deal aren’t out there yet but it will be interesting to see what he has to say.

Stay tuned. Also, check back tomorrow for an interesting Q&A with UFC 88 competitor Rich Franklin about his celebrity status (and the problems it can present), moving to light heavyweight, and his thoughts on the match with Matt Hamill.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 9:08 AM | | Comments (3)
        
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

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