Rich Franklin (left) | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Rich Franklin believes Forrest Griffin’s size will pose problems when they meet Feb. 5 at UFC 126.
When Franklin filled in for Tito Ortiz as a head coach on the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Griffin also helped out as an assistant coach. The former UFC light heavyweight champion made an impression on Franklin.
“I just remember seeing him out there and thinking, ‘My God, he is just a big, big man.’ I’m sure that’s probably going to look even that much worse to me when I show up to the fight at the weigh-ins,” Franklin said recently during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “I would imagine the kind of problems he’s going to pose is that he’s just big and he’s going to be strong. Possibly trying to push me against the fence.”
Franklin is a former UFC 185-pound champion, but he’s also had success at 205 pounds. Still, Griffin is a big light heavyweight and will be a unique challenge.
“Of course I’m going to have to worry about his reach with his jab and working to the inside,” Franklin said. “All those things are going to be problematic. And he’s funny, so he might actually tell some jokes when we’re in the ring. I think it’s going to be a good fight. We’ve taken a good approach to getting ready for all this, and we’ll see what happens.”
Franklin is coming off a knockout of Chuck Liddell in June. The bout was Liddell’s last before retiring, though Franklin said he was sharp in the cage.
“I think that he was moving really well, especially at the beginning of the round,” Franklin explained. “He threw a lot more head kicks than we were planning on, and of course breaking my arm, it took me off guard. I personally think that in the fight against me, Chuck looked better than he had looked almost in his entire career. He was just moving really well. Unfortunately he got caught again, and that wasn’t the first time he had been caught in the last several years.”
The 36-year-old Franklin is also at a stage in his career where retirement is becoming a possibility.
“Trust me, I’ve had these talks with my coaches,” he said. “I’ve seen some other fighters that have started to fade away a little bit as they’ve gotten older. I’ve said to my coaches and my friends and my training partners, ‘Hey, when you guys notice that I’m starting to lose a step, tell me because I would rather step out of this game before I ruin the end of a good career.’”
Franklin doesn’t think his friends will hesitate to tell him to exit. And unlike some athletes who struggle with retiring, he believes he’ll step out when it’s time.
“I would have the ability to do that,” he said. “Honestly, if my coaches had come to me before this Forrest fight and said, ‘Look, you’ve lost a step. You’re not competing at a top level anymore and this is not a smart fight for you to take and you should really seriously reconsider fighting,’ I would have to sit down and really think about that. I’ll be real honest with you. Jorge Gurgel, he’s one guy in my life that would just be brutally honest with me. He doesn’t pull any punches. He’s one guy that would look at me and be like, ‘Frank, you’re old and slow. Just stop.’”
Franklin hasn’t heard those words yet and doesn’t expect to for some time.
“I don’t think it’s time for me to look back and start reminiscing yet,” he said. “I still have a little bit of work to do.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:00:20) with Franklin.