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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Though Rich Franklin ultimately connected on a knockout right hand against Chuck Liddell at UFC 115 last month, there was a few minutes in the first round where he wasn't sure what he was going to do. Blocking a kick with his left forearm early in the round, Franklin broke the ulna bone in his forearm, and it had him wondering what to do next.
"It really took me out of my gameplan, honestly, because I started thinking about what i needed to do," Franklin told MMATorch.com. "I just thought, 'ok, when I get back to my corner, I gotta let my coaches know that my arm is broken and I've gotta figure out a gameplan for rounds two and three and how I'm going to win this fight.'"
"I had one of my friends who told me I threw 15 or 16 punches with my left hand after it broke in that round, [but] I'm not sure how much actual juice those punches had on them; so I didn't know if I could actually have knocked Chuck out with my power hand had one of those punches actually connected flush, so I really kept thinking towards the future and towards the future rather than worrying about how to adjust my gameplan in the present."
Looking back on the fight, and how prepared Liddell appeared for the fight, Franklin sees it as a definite highlight among the many he's had in his career.
"His physique was incredible, and his movement in the ring he just looked faster and more with it than he has in the last several years especially," he said. "So coupled with that I think this was definitely a big highlight for me. Of course, winning the middleweight title and stuff people always ask "what's the highlight of your career" and I always say 'i still haven't experienced that yet.'"
Franklin's now recovering from the broken forearm, which could keep him out through the end of the year, and is preparing for whatever challenge is presented to him by the UFC upon his return.
"I've never gone to the UFC and asked for a specific fight. Never, in my career. They've offered me people and I just say yes," Franklin said. "As a matter of fact, I've only turned one person down in my entire fight career, and that's when I fought Matt Hamill. Before they offered me Matt Hamill, they offered me Reese Andy. I told them I didn't want to fight Reese because he had actually helped me get ready for my two fights prior to that when I was up training in Seattle, and he was basically one of my current training partners. So I said 'I'd really rather not fight him.'"
"Of course they came back with Matt Hamill. I knew Matt, and that wasn't the best [option] either, but I kind of painted myself in a corner with that so I told the UFC, 'take it to Matt's camp and if they want the fight then I'll take the fight, but it's definitely not my second choice.' And that's exactly what happened."
But while he's shown time and time again a willingness to accept any challenge in front of him, he's now got a clear goal in mind: the Light Heavyweight Championship. And while he's taken a couple of 195 lb. catchweight fights, leading many to call that the "Franklinweight division," when he returns he wants a fight that will get him a step closer to that goal.
"People ask me 'well who do you want to fight next?' I couldn't care less, this is a business to me; I'm making my way to the 205 lb. title at this point in time so as long as it's somebody that puts me in a direct line for that then I'm good to go, otherwise I don't want to waste my time."
Franklin knows the UFC likes to put on fights that people want to see, and while many names have popped up and he's heard a lot of the speculation about possible opponents, he's still willing to accept the fights that they want to put on, friend or not.
"I'd be interested in taking any fight that they offered to me. Forrest and I, we're somewhat of friends, and I like him, I like hanging out with him, so of him and Machida I'd particularly want to try to avoid that one; but this is business," Franklin said when asked about possible fights with Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin. "I've done it before. Chuck was a friend of mine, Matt was a friend of mine, I have a good professional relationship with pretty much everyone I've ever fought both before and after the fight, so it wouldn't stop me from taking a fight with Forrest."
"I've heard the fans talk about Forrest and I, I've heard the fans talk about Tito [Ortiz] and I. I know there's some fan interest out there for some particular fights, and I know that Dana is particularly interested in building fights that fans want to see, so if those guys are healthy at the time that I'm ready to return and that's a fight he wants to put on then yeah, I'm not going to say no to something like that."
RELATED STORY: UFC NEWS: Rich Franklin recovering from his broken arm, working with Susan G. Komen foundation for cast raffle: [CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE]
Updated 7/19 with more quotes from Franklin.
[Rich Franklin art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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