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The Quotable Ace

"You’re standing in the cage and you’ve got two options – you can quit or you can continue going, and I’m not a quitter." - Rich Franklin

Rich FranklinOne of the UFC’s most popular competitors, Rich “Ace” Franklin, returns to the middleweight division he once reigned over on November 10th when he takes on Cung Le in Macao.  Before the bell rings though, we’ll give the floor to Franklin for some “Ace” quotes gathered over the years.

“Prior to the (Curtis) Stout and (Jorge) Rivera fights last year, I had given some serious consideration to quitting. I was going to go back to my job and teaching, and I wasn’t making bad money, but I wasn’t making great money, and I thought if I can make X number of dollars a year teaching and make the same amount of dollars fighting, it makes no sense to me if teaching is more of a secure environment. So with my degree and everything, I really thought about going back to teaching and just hanging the hat up here. But how quickly things turned around. I prayed about it, asked for some guidance, and God gave it to me.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching and I love working with the students but I can’t imagine, having experienced what I’ve experienced in life, going back to just a normal 9 to 5 job. But we’ll see. If you asked me five years ago what I thought I’d be doing now, I would not have had any of this in mind. So I don’t know what I’ll be doing five years from this point in my life either.”

“I train hard and come into the fights well prepared, but mentally, by fight day I’m ready to go. And if I do everything that I should have done up to that point – and I always do – I don’t feel like I can be beat. There’s no reason why I should lose the fight. Granted, something can happen and there’s always a puncher’s chance, but skill for skill, I feel that when I’m stepping into the ring, there’s nobody stepping into the ring who’s better than me. I’ve convinced myself of that, and because of that I’m capable of taking the fight where it needs to go so it’s favorable towards me.”

“At this point it’s not that tough. My true private life I can keep private. I don’t have paparazzi following me around and taking photos. I can walk out to my mailbox and get my mail without being concerned about what I’m wearing that day or whatever. I don’t live that kind of lifestyle. And I think at the level that I’m at, with the notoriety I have, so to speak, this level doesn’t bother me. And I’m here in Cincinnati, so I don’t get it a lot. My wife and I may go out to dinner for an evening and between dinner and a movie we might get stopped two or three times by people that recognize me and that’s not all that bad. It’s not like being in Vegas the week before a fight and everyone knows who you are. That’s a bit overwhelming, and if life was like that every day, then I would have to take some different measures to be able to cope with that. And I just can’t imagine life being like that yet, at this point.”

“I don’t like to use the word perfectionist. I can look at freeze frames of a fight or anything else and find slight little things – maybe my hand was down two inches lower or four inches lower than it should have been, or off of a break I didn’t react as quickly as I should have, I wasn’t explosive as I should have been – and even if it’s just minor details that most people wouldn’t even think about, I still pick up on.”

“Any time you have a major injury and you’re aware of it, you can feel it. But it’s not like the kind of feeling I would get if I were to break my hand in a car door and then had to sit there with it. I’m in the middle of a fight, so most of that pain is masked. But you know it’s there and it hurts a little bit. What else am I gonna do? Punching is a big part of my game, so the only option I have is to kick and keep throwing punches.”

“I don’t know what it is, I just have this drive. I was a kid that didn’t have a whole lot growing up. I was from divorced parents, kinda poor, and we had to make do with what we had and fight for what we got. And I think the Lord kinda put me in that situation, so I grew up with that kind of mentality that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get what you need. This is the path that I’ve chosen in life, God’s granted me with the talent to fight, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get what I need, and in Saturday’s case, that was a victory.”

“You see the marketing that’s put into these fights, and especially in the boxing world you see two fighters shove each other at the weigh-in, and it really doesn’t make for a better fight. I don’t think you could have asked for a more exciting fight than Saturday’s fight (against David Loiseau), and that’s coming from two guys who like each other and consider themselves friends - as much as you can be friends in this business and in the same weight class - and yet we still put on a good show.”

THE FANS (2006)
“I love the fans out there and any fan that has met me could probably vouch for me and say that.  I’m usually the last guy to leave and the first guy to show up to sign autographs and I always have to have somebody pushing me out the door saying ‘Rich, we’ve got to be here’ or ‘Rich, we’ve got to be there.’  And I love the fans in that sense.  However, I don’t thrive on the fame or anything like that.  I just understand that from a fan’s perspective, if somebody waits around to meet Rich Franklin, and they put a lot of time and effort into meeting me, then the least I can do is sign an autograph, be cordial, and make the most of that particular encounter.”

“Most people in this country, they participate in team sports, and a lot of people don’t understand the difference between team sports and individual sports. For me, when I walk into the cage, it’s kinda like that feeling of having two seconds left on the clock and I’m at the free throw line and I have to make both my free throws to win the game. Or it’s the bottom of the ninth and I’m the last batter and we need a run driven in to win the World Series. You have that kind of feeling of pressure on you where you have to be the one to perform. You don’t have four other teammates on the court that you can blame it on when the game is lost. When the fight’s lost, it’s your fault. People look at you and want to know what you did wrong, what you did right, and how you’re going to fix things so that you can win next time.”

“I think that individual athletes and fighters like myself, these are the guys that would be the playmakers on teams. You’re the guy that wants the ball in a pressure situation. You’re the guy that can say, ‘You know what, I can make the difference between winning and losing in a game.’ I do believe it’s that mentality.”

“I get tired of the misconceptions. I honestly get tired of doing interviews that constantly use words like ‘barbaric’ and ‘bloody’, and just those kind of adjectives to describe what you do. In reality, I feel much safer doing what I do than I would riding a bull or driving NASCAR or doing flips on a motorcycle at a motocross event. That’s just my choice. I have a good referee in the ring at all times to keep watch on me and I have the ability, if I want to, to tap out of a fight. That keeps me safe and I know it. The misconceptions of just how brutal this sport is just gets irritating after a while, to constantly defend yourself.”

“There’s no quarterback in the NFL that ever won one Super bowl ring and didn’t want to win another one. One of my favorite posters that I had growing up was a poster of Joe Montana. He was holding a football and he had a Superbowl ring on four fingers. Just to see that picture and know that not only is he a good quarterback, but he was dominant. And I think every kid dreams of that. You don’t go into sports and say ‘well if I could win one Superbowl, that would be great.’ If you’re gonna play ten years, you’d want to win ten, and that’s the same way here. After I win my championship belt, I don’t want to lose it. If I fight ten more fights in my career, I want to defend my belt ten more times and that’s what I’m trying to get back to.”

“The movie work that I did, I had been talking to my business team about it, and it seemed like an opportunity for something that was just kinda fun to do. I don’t really have any acting experience and don’t necessarily think that I have a future in acting as a career. When I talked about doing a small part in a movie, I said something about having three or four lines and more or less like a cameo appearance. So here we are, we find ourselves in a smaller budget action film and it was a good opportunity. But never once did it cross my mind that ‘yeah, this is something I can do when I’m done fighting.’ I’m just not sure that I enjoy acting that much. It’s hard work, its long hours, and it’s a slower pace of work than I’m used to. Being in front of a camera when you’re acting is much different than when you’re doing an interview, commentating, or any of that stuff. Would I do another movie? Yeah, possibly. I had a good time doing it. Would I want to do it as a career? I’m not quite sure.”

“People in this world assume that once you’ve earned the title, been the main event, and been in the limelight and then lost it that now you’re done. I’m not done. I can still put on exciting fights, the fans love watching me fight, I love to compete still, and I can move to 205 and see what I can do there. I don’t mind not being the main event, I don’t mind not having to do 5,000 interviews – now I only have 4,999 because I’m not nearly important as I once was. (Laughs) To me, it’s all the same – I have fans who still love me and critics who hate me. It will be that way whether I’m a titleholder or not, so in between now and then, I’m just trying to put on good fights, entertain people, and enjoy doing what I do.”

HATERS (2008)
“Everybody has haters. I was watching (comedian) Katt Williams. He said Jesus only had 12 friends and he had a hater, and he (Jesus) was perfect. Judas threw him under the bus. So it doesn’t matter what you do in life, there are gonna be people who don’t like you.”

“It’s easy when you get to the top and you’re winning and to say to yourself – here’s the equation that got it done for me – I’m gonna stick with this. But once you lose and you’re not on the top anymore, a lot of guys are just comfortable saying I was there, I was world champ, and I’m happy with that, so let me just skate through here on my own coattails and make the money I can make throughout the rest of my career. And they invest all the time, work, and effort that they need to in getting to the top, and once they’re there, they’re sick of putting that work in and they don’t want to have to go back to the drawing board and say I need to change myself as a fighter. For me, I’m not satisfied being on the top and then beginning my downward descent into retirement. There are still things I’d like to accomplish in this sport.”

BURN OUT (2009)
“I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get burned out occasionally. There are days when I come in the gym and I ask myself why I do what I do. It happens all the time, but every fighter goes through that. Whether it’s gonna be physically difficult, where you don’t want to go through that hard workout, or it’s gonna be mentally difficult, where you’re constantly focusing on things but you don’t feel like putting the attention span in on something, you have those days from time to time and you just have to work through that stuff. I keep telling myself that in this profession, I have a short window. It’s not 30 years and then retire. I’ve got maybe 10 or 11 years in this and then I’m done. So even when I have days where I don’t feel like doing what I need to do, I’ve just got to suck it up, do my stuff, and remind myself that this is a short-lived amount of time.”

“It’s the classic Cinderella story – any athlete, or anybody in any kind of job in life, that’s what they want to do. I want to try my hand at going for the number one spot again and if I can make it there, that would be great to get back on top, and once I get there I’ll figure out where to go from there. So I would think that fights with some of the big names in the sport are what’s going to take me there, and obviously these fights with guys like Chuck Liddell are gonna put me in a position to start stepping me towards that.”

“I love competition and this is what I’m good at. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine doing anything besides this. If you were a doctor and you came to me and said ‘Rich, you could never fight again,’ I would sit here and wonder what I would do. There’s nothing I really enjoy doing like I enjoy fighting and training. I do what I love and I really need to thank God for the fact that I’m not stuck doing some job that I hate.”

“You’re standing in the cage and you’ve got two options – you can quit or you can continue going, and I’m not a quitter. At the end of the day, if I had turned around and looked at the ref and said my ‘arm is broken, I can’t continue’, I think I really would have been kicking myself for something like that in the long run. So basically, you keep going and keep going until you can’t go anymore. In every human there’s the fight or flight syndrome, and you come to a crossroads often in life where you have to make a choice as to whether or not you’re going to continue pushing through something or if you’re going to fold the cards. Some people fold more easily than others, and that’s a situation where I know that even though my arm was in some pain, I had the adrenaline going and all that stuff, so it’s a manageable pain. And when you’re in the moment, all you’re thinking about is that I need to win this fight. And you say well, my arm’s already broken, so what more can possibly be done.”

“I remember watching boxing growing up and you have these champions and they would fight a big fight and then after that they would get a couple tomato cans. And in boxing, a lot of these guys are only fighting once or maybe twice a year. In MMA, when you get to the top of the heap, you’re consistently fighting the top contenders. There is no ‘let’s give him a newbie or a nobody’. In MMA, people wouldn’t even watch a fight like that. So it’s been that way for me since before I fought Shamrock. My first fight in the UFC was Evan Tanner.”

THE BAD GUY? (2012)
“It happened all the time before I was in the UFC, when I was fighting as a lower level professional fighter making my way up. Initially, there were not a whole lot of fight promotions here in Ohio, so oftentimes I would have to travel from one place to the next to just fight whoever to get that experience under my belt. And anytime you travel, you’re typically fighting the hometown hero. So the whole first half of my professional career, I was never the crowd favorite. So it’s been a while, but at least it’s a feeling I’m familiar with.”

“If you’re fighting a wrestler, for example like when I fought Matt Hamill, he was a puzzle that you’re trying to solve, so to speak, and then you move on and you fight a guy like Wanderlei Silva. He’s a different kind of puzzle that you have to solve. So I have that mindset pretty much every time I go into fight prep anyway. And even though I’ve seen this puzzle with Wanderlei before, it’s a new puzzle. The core of Wanderlei will remain the same from fight to fight, but he can pick up new tips and tricks here and there, so on any given night, they basically pose a new threat or become a new puzzle for you to solve.”