Editor’s Note: Today we have a special feature for you as Akhilesh Gannavarapu gets the opportunity to interview former UFC middleweight champion and co-founder of American Fighter, Rich Franklin (@richfranklin). You can hear the interview below, or you can read the transcript.
Akhilesh Gannavarapu: You’ve done quite a lot for the community and for the veterans of the United States Army. Can you please elaborate on your motivation behind helping the youngsters?
Rich Franklin: It’s not just the cause as such because, I used to teach and have been giving talks on causes such as bullying and I have done a lot of work with the vets, primarily for the disabled vets. I was a spokesperson for an organisation called the DAV (Disable American Veterans) Federation and I recently attended another organisation’s meeting, the IAVA that espouses a similar cause. I always think that whatever I do, I always like to help people, I think that it’s in my innate nature. I recently had someone ask me for an autograph of mine as an anniversary gift for her husband and her, and offered to pay for the same. It was pretty odd as I would have done it for free, but what I did was, I told her that I will sign the picture of hers with her husband and they could instead of paying me, make a donation to the IAVA which worked out perfectly. It’s an organisation which has got a very good rating but not many people, including people with prior military experience aren’t aware of, and the entire arrangement worked out as a win-win for everybody. When I do things in life, that’s what I try to do, I try to help as much as possible. Because it would have been easier for me to say something like, send me a cheque for 50 bucks or 100 bucks or whatever in exchange for signing a picture or could have done it for free and that process would have stopped. But now, I have made a difference for the organisation and the woman wherein she got to do something that technically hit home with her. With the DAV, I have been overseas on 4 different trips and been to every military base here and some abroad in the Europe and the Middle East. I think when I graduated from college, I intended to pursue military route but didn’t end up going that route as I went and did my degree in education and then masters’, became a fighter and life took me in a different direction. I have a pretty big fan following in the military force and through that and my sense of civic duty that I should be able to serve in the military for some time. I think that I can give back to our troops in a different way now.
AG: During your time fighting in the UFC, you have had battles with the biggest of names including Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva. Any particular fight that sticks out in your mind as your personal favourite?
RF: I kind of spoke about this in my Ted Talk, where I went into detail about my favourite fight being the one against Travis Lutter. The reason being that because, while preparing for the fight, my team and I, we looked at Travis as an opponent, we broke him down and all the things he could do to me in a fight and we had prepared my gameplan to a T. But, in that fight, I kept successfully failing at everything I had prepared for and I ended up being in the worst position I could be in. Travis was sitting on my chest mounted about to rain punches on me and he being a jiu-jitsu phenomenon, getting out of that position was really going to be tough for me. I ended up taking a risk and giving him my arm, but ended up escaping an armbar. It was when he was sitting on top of me that I actually said to myself, “I am actually going to lose a fight”, and that was the first time that losing became a possibility in my mind. It’s different when you get clipped in a fight and lose, but when you mentally give up like that is when I decided to regroup and thought of feeding him my arm and hip-escape from the armbar. The reason it is my personal favourite is because I mentally folded in the fight and then I had to check myself and get back in the game. I always tell people that it is easy to fight when you are in control, but when you are truly tested on all levels, that will tell you what kind of character you have what you need to work on if in a fight.
AG: Do you have any other projects lined up in the near future, other than your commitment to ONE FC and ZeLin? Will we see you again on the big screen (Hollywood) any time soon?
RF: I do have a movie coming out; it’s been a couple of years wherein I have a cameo, but that’s not something I am focusing on right now. I keep coming across stuff from time to time including a call for audition in July, but I would be in Taiwan at that time for the ONE FC show. Yeah so, it’s not something that I am focused deeply on right now but between ONE FC, Ze-Lin and possible taking my last fight with the UFC, I have so much on my plate. Spending time on something else would be really hard and I don’t know how I would fit that in.
AG: Can we have your thoughts for the upcoming UFC 175 PPV? The first person to hand you a loss in your MMA career, Lyoto Machida will be fighting for the gold against Weidman. Who do you think will come out on top?
RF: I tell you what, I wasn’t a big Weidman believer at first, but looking at the second Anderson Silva fight, he looked great and had a solid gameplan. Lyoto & Anderson have this great ability to elude punches and draw you into their game. Lyoto is obviously a bit different than Anderson and he is a bigger fighter, and size hasn’t played a big role in the Anderson fights, but I like how Weidman matches up with Lyoto. He is very patient as a fighter and I think that if there is any fighter out there who can knock a hole into Lyoto’s game, it would be Chris.
AG: Do you think that the fight would go to the ground or it would be a stand-up affair?
RF: I think we are still at a stage of Chris Weidman’s game, where we are seeing what his strategy is going in for fights. Obviously, he would try and take Machida down, but with Anderson he wasn’t shy about standing up either, so honestly I don’t know where the fight would end up being but it should be a good exciting fight.
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