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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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Could Rich Franklin be the man that sends Chuck Liddell into retirement after their UFC 115 fight?

By Zach Arnold | June 8, 2010

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Kind of a sad thought to consider there. I hadn’t thought of the UFC 115 main event that way until I heard the question asked yesterday in this Tapout radio interview with Rich Franklin.

The last time I did a transcript of a Rich Franklin interview, most of you ignored it. So, go read it. Maybe I should have headlined with the fact that he used the phrase ‘hot yoga class.’ It’s actually a very good interview. In fact, Rich is one of a few fighters in Mixed Martial Arts who always usually does a great job in media interviews. No matter if you’re a cub reporter or a veteran of the game, he always manages to say a few things that make you look at certain topics in MMA from a different perspective. I respect his opinions and analysis a lot and I think he’ll do a great job in the media when he decides to retire.

As to the issue of retirement for both Rich and for Chuck (Liddell), Rich answered it in the Tapout interview.

(Full-page displays the money quotes that he said.)

He’s already in Vancouver and ready to fight this Saturday night at GM Place. For all intents and purposes, there’s no buzz at all in the States for this show, but the building will be insanely hot for crowd heat on Saturday and I think it’s a show that will easily outperform expectations, as low as they might be for most UFC fans.

As a bonus quote, Rich also made a prediction for the upcoming Brock Lesnar/Shane Carwin fight. That quote, along with Rich’s thoughts on ‘wall and stall’ in UFC with wrestlers like Rashad Evans, may draw some attention as well.

How does traveling for fights impact your performance and what is your current weight heading into the final preparations for the fight?

“The thing about travel… I always try to go one day early, at least one day early for every fight I go through and this is three times for me, so I would need to arrive at least 3 days prior to the fight and so you know at this point and time I’m 5 days ahead. Now when I went to like Germany and Ireland and all that kind of stuff, I think I got for both of those fights like 8 days ahead of time and it’s a lot more difficult actually for me to adjust to the time zone when I fly East as opposed to when I’m flying West, like I lose time as opposed to when I gain. So I’m not worried about that. On the weight, I woke up this morning, I’m 211 1/2, so I’m looking at about six pounds to cut and we get a pound allowance because it’s not a title fight and I’m good to go, man, I feel great and I’m ready.”

Before the long hiatus you took, you were fighting for about five straight years non-stop.

“Yeah, if wasn’t just that but I was fighting like big fights and it’s difficult you know when you’re constantly trying to physically get yourself up for all that stuff, like major marquee fights. So, like, I mean, as far as like being upset with myself and all that kind of stuff, no, I knew I needed a break, I was started to get worn down mentally more than anything before the Wanderlei (Silva) fight and I was training for the Wanderlei fight, got through that, and then when all that stuff came up with Vitor (Belfort), I knew it was a bad situation when you’re walking into the gym and the first thing you do is look at the clock when you’re about five minutes into practice and you’re starting to count the minutes down that you have to be there. You can’t maintain your mental focus that you need to prepare for an opponent on that level.”

It’s a possibility that the winner of the UFC 115 fight could put themselves into position to fight in a future #1 contender’s bout. Have you thought ahead to what is next for you and has UFC management told you anything about upcoming fights?

“Nothing. Here’s the thing — I was actually I mean just when I look at the scenario of all that kind of stuff, removing me from the picture I was actually kind of surprised that Rashad (Evans) got a title shot before they decided to do a rubber match between (Lyoto) Machida and (Mauricio) Shogun. I mean typically that just seems like the logical step any time you have two title fights and one guy wins one and the other guy wins the other one they do the rubber match without anybody in between. But now, Rashad beat Quinton (Jackson) and they put Rashad in it, so yeah, anything can happen at any given time, but it’s not one of those things where they call and they say, ‘look you know win this fight and you know we have another fight or two and you’re going to be back in title contention’ and all that kind of stuff and I’m kind of glad that it doesn’t work that way because it would easy for you to stop losing focus on what’s important and the important thing at this point and time is for me to beat Chuck and without that all the other things you try to plan out ahead of time you’re going to get ahead of yourself.”

Do you see yourself back as a full-time fighter or are you going to pace your fight schedule more slowly?

“I’m not sure if I’ll ever maintain a four-fight-a-year pace again. I’m 35 years old and I can tell a difference between the body my is now and the way my body was seven years. I feel good training, I mean you know taking time off and all that kind of stuff did wonders for me, more mentally than physically but you know I even had a lot of just little physical like little dings and things like that here and there you know messed up fingers that needed breaks and all that kind of stuff, broken fingers but you know I need a break away from training and all that kind of stuff and you know physically I feel fine. I get up in the morning, I feel fine. I have, you know, I have my things that are stiff and I’m talking about joints. (Laughs) But you know I mean, for the most part for a 35 year old athlete, I feel pretty good.”

Has there been any pressure on you from others about the fact that you could be the man to put Chuck Liddell into retirement?

“You know, no, and that’s not something that I really think about because… I mean, if Chuck decided to retire after a loss here or something like that, that wouldn’t be necessarily just because ‘well Rich Franklin put into retirement,’ there would have been a series of events that led up to that, not just one particular fight, so… I’m not going like take credit for doing something like that or like whatever like maybe somebody would get excited like ‘yeah, well I beat him so bad I put into retirement,’ it’s like well, I don’t know, I’m not that kind of person. So, it’s a fight, man, and you know Chuck and I we got about 18 minutes including the minute breaks in-between of some unfriendly time coming up this Saturday.”

If Chuck takes you down in the fight, it will likely be just for points.

“Yeah, I’ve never rolled with Chuck but I would assume I mean even if he’s a purple belt that he probably meshes jiu-jitsu really well with his wrestling and that can make jiu-jitsu even that much more effective. I’ve grappled with wrestlers that probably, from a jiu-jitsu perspective, are at best like new blue belts but you know because they’re such good wrestlers and they’ve learned one or two chokes and they have arms like Tyrannosaurus Rex that just wrap around you really quickly and they’re capable of sinking in things like rear naked chokes and guillotines, it makes them very dangerous. So, I honestly don’t think Chuck’s going to try to out jiu-jitsu me either, but I mean if he does try taking me down it would be more for points but you know my philosophy on that is if you take a guy down, you really you need to do something with it. If you just take a guy down and lay there and you’re not able to land any punches, then you know, that’s about as random as me being able to put somebody on the fence and not really do anything with it.”

That’s the way it seems with MMA these days, if you put someone against the fence and wall and stall there’s a good chance it’s going to be a dominant victory.

“Trust me, I know, I know, I… I lost a fight to (Dan) Henderson and I mean I didn’t really other than an eye poke I really didn’t get hit with any really good power shots even when I was on the ground and yeah, so, you know, I know the dangers of being on the ground. I mean that’s the bad thing about MMA at this point in time is that jiu-jitsu can, I mean, if you have a good guard game it can be really nullified once you get into the second round of the fight it’s difficult to submit people because there is no gi, you’re slippery and you’re sweaty and you’re on bottom and so from the judges’ perspective, you’re losing the fight… Yeah, once you’re on the bottom in the guard in the judges’ eyes you’re opponent is in the dominant position.”

MMA is now all about wrestling. Before, it was all about jiu-jitsu. It’s like we’re back to the late 90s.

“Yeah, I just think that you know I mean it’s kind of any other sport. Like… you just see trends with things, you know. People come in with good jiu-jitsu and then of course the strikers were on top for a while, they learned how to defend the takedown and keep the fight on the feet and… you know and the jiu-jitsu guys couldn’t get them all down and all of a sudden these jiu-jitsu guys are getting punched in the head and then suddenly these wrestlers come in and they learn enough jiu-jitsu that they were willing to take the strikers down and use the jiu-jitsu and avoid submissions and it’s just that’s the whole evolution of this sport. It will be cyclical the whole way, I mean it will be like 20 years from now you’re going to see trends in pretty much every aspect of the sport.”

Will we ever see knees to a downed opponent in the UFC?

“I’m a never-say-never kind of guy but probably not because you know I mean that is something that could happen on down the line down the line but not any time, not any time recently because the UFC has had a long road to get where it is today and even still when we did the conference call interview last Friday I think and one of the reporters was from Vancouver, a newspaper up there and she was talking about how much bad press that is up there so it’s just not accepted and the same thing happened to me when I was in Germany. You know when I was in Germany I was doing interviews and I was answering questions with the same kind of phrasing that questions had like 10-15 years ago here in the United States using the phrases like ‘human cockfighting’ and ‘brutality’ and all that kind of stuff. Although we made you know ground-breaking types of advances here in the United States with people understanding the sport, internationally we’re still running into these problems taking place in Canada and Europe and stuff like that. And of course the UFC is moving more and more towards that international audience so I think that it’s going to be some time down the road before you would ever convince some of these other countries that things like knees to the head are legal even though they’ve been doing it in Japan for the longest time. There’s other countries that aren’t accepting and until people are accepting of that they’ll never push for it. I’m not sure how the athletic commissions in the United States will even deal with something like that…”

What are your thoughts about the upcoming Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin fight?

“I don’t know. Things that come to mind, Brock’s been out for a while, you know he had that sickness, he lost that weight, I’m wondering how that’s going to effect him. I wonder if that will play into any kind of ring rust and not just with the time out but if that’s going to shake his confidence at all or if he’s back to the way he was and I think that’s a big, big gamble to kind of take there. You know Shane, on the other hand, he’s looking good lately. I don’t know if at this point in time I know he in previous interviews he talked about the fact that he still works full-time and fighting’s a part-time job for him and it will be difficult as he keeps stepping up in competition to get that done I think unless he 100% commits to this as a job, so at this point in time if he’s fighting a title fight, I wonder how his camp’s going and all that kind of stuff. I would say like that given all those parameters, if I was a gambling man, at this point in time I’d probably put my money on Shane. I’m speaking with my head there and I’m looking at things logically kind of like do my own little non-scientific statistical analysis based on all these little like I said all these parameters that come into play there and you start weighing that stuff out, though, so that’s not with my heart, that’s just my logic.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “Could Rich Franklin be the man that sends Chuck Liddell into retirement after their UFC 115 fight?”

  1. ttt says:

    “The last time I did a transcript of a Rich Franklin interview, most of you ignored it.”

    is it because no one commented on it? these are good interviews and worth transcribing, just not much to discuss imo

  2. Mr. Roadblock says:

    If this is Chuck’s last fight I have to say UFC missed two giant paydays with him.

    1. vs Forrest (that seemed like such an obvious fight to have made)

    2. vs Kimbo

    It really shocks me that UFC missed the boat on those two mega-money fights.

    Liddell should have been Forrest’s first title defense at 205.

    • Fluyid says:

      They left a ton of money on the table by not making Chuck vs. Kimbo, imo. Maybe Moosin puts that one together in a couple of years. 🙂

    • edub says:

      Agreed.

      Coach vs. student, Two giant money-making fan favorites.

      It wouldv’e been kind of hard to make that title fight right after Chuck got KTFO by Rashad.

      If Liddell would’ve beat Evans than I think we couldv’e seen one of the highest buyrates (pre-Brock) in UFC history.

    • The hot rumor was that they desperately wanted to but Chuck decided it wasn’t worth his time following the Nelson/Kimbo fight on TUF.

  3. Mark says:

    No, even if Chuck gets knocked out cold again, he’ll still be back to at least just fight Tito. Chuck will argue that he just wanted to do the “legends circuit” type deal and Franklin is still a semi-relevant fighter so he just agreed to it out of necessity since Ortiz dropped out and they had nothing else since Randy was fighting James Toney.

    And of course if he wins, you know we’re going to get the “THE ICE MAN IS BACK~!” propaganda and Dana hiding his woody at the press conference saying Chuck will be in the title picture with one more win. He’ll never not be a mark for a victorious Chuck Liddell, I don’t care what you say.

  4. Tradition Rules says:

    I agree.

    It would have had HUGE PPV numbers as a semi-main event, even w/a mediocre undercard, to have him fight Kimbo.

    I say semi-main event because kimbo really hasn’t doen anything to earn main event, other then being a draw for the casual fans…but I’m sure he could have boosted the buy rate.

  5. EJ says:

    There is no reason for Chuck to ever fight Kimbo where people get the idea that would be a fight that draws is beyond me.

    And i’m sorry to hear Rich complain about wrestlers like that when he is a guy who is good because of great gameplan to win.

    Sorry Rich but if you can’t stop a guy from taking you down and laying on you maybe you should’ve worked on takedown defense in your time off.

  6. When the possibility of big money disappears for Liddell, so will he. Not until that day. All the PR jobs in the world won’t make up for 7 figure paydays with someone somewhere. If the UFC was serious about making an example of him and how they didn’t want him to fight, they could have released him.

  7. Tradition Rules says:

    “There is no reason for Chuck to ever fight Kimbo where people get the idea that would be a fight that draws is beyond me.”

    Well, for two reasons:

    1) All the Kimbo/casual fans who think he is a big deal would believe anything. Hype up the match. Yes,…Kimbo sucks. But they will believe any thing that is hyped up.

    2) Chuck is Chuck and still very popular, even if past his prime. I think some fans would LOVE to see him school Kimbo.

    I am no fan of Kimbo( I saw his fights on Youtube and thought “what’s all the hype about?”), but if UFC could have gotten anything extra out of him, all the more power to them.

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