(Two very different ends of the agony/compensation spectrum. Images courtesy of MMAFighting.com)
The UFC shelled out over $1.6 million in disclosed salaries and bonuses to the fighters who competed at UFC 126, and damn, some of these dudes are making bank. Good to see it. The numbers are below, courtesy of MMAJunkie. Keep in mind that these salary totals don’t include additional income from sponsorships, undisclosed "locker room" bonuses, and (potentially, for some headliners) percentages of the pay-per-view revenue, or deductions for taxes, licensing fees, and insurance.
Anderson Silva: $275,000 (includes $75,000 Knockout of the Night bonus; no disclosed win bonus) def. Vitor Belfort: $275,000
(Above: "…and I’m gonna wear one of those stupid jester-hats in the Octagon. And you’re not going to do a damn thing about it." Below: Jon Jones knows that the best way to deal with a bully is to ignore him, Michihiro Omigawa does that ridiculous duck-face thing, and Miguel Torres and Antonio Banuelos face off for the unofficial Mexican Bantamweight Championship. All photos courtesy of the UFC 126: Weigh In Pics gallery on CombatLifestyle.com)
Fuck football. Unless you were cursed enough to grow up in Green Bay, or you’re a supporter of dudes who get accused of rape a lot, you know as well as I do that this weekend belongs to cage-fighting. And if you don’t, you can piss off right now. Seriously. The rest of us will wait.
Now then. Tonight’s ultra-stacked lineup features the longest-reigning champion in UFC history defending his middleweight title for the eighth time against a power-punching dynamo who used to be a UFC champion himself, seven years and one weight-class ago. Supporting the main event will be a scrap between two Octagon icons and former belt-holders (Franklin vs. Griffin), a fight that could produce the future of the 205-pound division (Jones vs. Bader), Miguel Torres’s breathtaking mullet, and the UFC debuts of some exciting imported talent from Japan.
Live UFC 126 results will be stacking up after the jump, beginning with a quick recap of the Yamamoto/Johnson Facebook match at 8:25 p.m. ET, leading into the Spike TV prelims broadcast at 9 p.m., and finally the pay-per-view broadcast at 10 p.m. So we’ve got a long night of fighting in front of us — but hey, nobody ever said being an MMA fan would be easy.
A week or so ago, when we noted that nearly every claim made in the official UFC 126 trailer was at least debatable (if not an out-and-out lie), the one fight saved from our incredulity was Forrest Griffin vs. Rich Franklin. Maybe that’s because the best hype the UFC could drum up for this bout was to have its voiceover guy dramatically bellow, “Former champions Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin will battle it out!” Yep, that feels … accurate. But if, like us, you think this meeting between two old warhorses lacks a certain sizzle, you’re not alone. Even the fighters themselves appear to understand this fight needs a little something extra to get people really emotionally invested.
And so Griffin, that mischievous little imp, would like to propose a gentleman’s wager on the outcome of this scrap: Loser gets tattooed. A bemused Franklin – who from the looks of this vid has spent the last seven months since his victory over Chuck Liddell making sure that lifetime membership at the tanning salon pays for itself – seems oddly cool with the idea. He suggests the loser must get inked-up with a picture of the winner, which to us is a truly inspired idea. Unless you guys have any other suggestions.
("When you put your focus on one thing, you tend not to focus on the journey. Once you get there, it’s not going to be as big of a deal as you thought it was going to be.")
This Saturday, Rich Franklin will step into the Octagon for the 18th time to face Forrest Griffin in the co-headlining feature of UFC 126. During his 12-year career, Ace has experienced everything from championship glory to bitter defeat, and now stands as one of the sport’s most revered statesmen. “I think that what people will remember me for is that I’m a tough competitor who’s put on entertaining fights for the fans all these years," Franklin tells CagePotato. "And I’m happy with that kind of legacy.”
Rich was generous enough to give us some phone-time recently, and instead of asking him about his gameplan for Forrest, we discussed Franklin’s career as a whole, from the moment he decided to pursue MMA as a full-time job, to the fight that changed his life, to every other notable moment that helped forge the fighter he is today. Let’s begin…
The Early Days, 1993-1999 Rich Franklin: “I started training in traditional martial arts in 1993, then I saw the first couple UFCs and started doing some jiu-jitsu. I was training at a Royce Gracie chapter here in Cincinnati, and the guy who was leading my class was a blue belt. By today’s standards, if the best you had in your area was a blue belt, you’d be way behind the times, but in 1994 it was a big deal to have that kind of a resource. So I was doing jiu-jitsu, working with kickboxing coaches, and of course I’d been watching the UFC, learning off instructional tapes and all those kinds of things.
I started fighting at these little local amateur shows out in Richmond, Indiana, and clearly at that point in time, I was just light-years ahead of the competition that was showing up at the event. The promoter told me, ‘These are amateur events, I don’t really have anybody for you to fight.’ But there was a gentleman there who said, ‘You know what, I run a pro show, and I’ll pay you to fight." And he offered me 200 bucks. I was like, ‘Wow, I can make money fighting? This is great. I’m gonna make 200 bucks." I was bankin’.
RICH FRANKLIN (5-0) vs. AARON BRINK (7-4) — Franklin’s first regional title fight IFC: Warriors Challenge 11, 1/13/01 Result: No contest due to accidental injury, after Brink’s leg slipped through the cage.
When fans and fighters complain about wrestlers in MMA, they’re talking about Gray Maynard. He takes fighters down because that’s what he’s good at. In Maynard’s nine-fight UFC career, he has just one stoppage, a KO of Joe Veres over three years ago. He’s earned his title shot not because of his performances, but rather because what the hell else do you do with a guy who’s undefeated and has won eight straight fights, including one over the current champ? Cole Miller said it best: Taking people down should be a means to an end. Gray needs to start having some refs pull him off of people if he’s ever going to have any drawing power.
Ben Askren is just starting to make his way into mainstream MMA discussions. However, it’s not exactly a heralded arrival. The kid makes picking strawberries look like it belongs in the X Games. His last “stoppage” was a controversial sub over Ryan Thomas, who promptly and correctly displayed his best WTFIYP face. Before that it was a north-south choke over some guy you’ve never heard of in some organization you’ve never heard of back in August of ’09. For his last fight, in which he won the Bellator welterweight strap, he came about as close to finishing Lyman Good as I did. I was on the couch eating Mayfield Butter Pecan ice cream. It was delicious. As a title holder for an up-and-coming organization, Askren needs to show more of a killer instinct if he ever wants his fights to be broadcast by anyone other than Fox Sports South.
Forrest Griffin interviews make me feel good. Not because Forrest is a funny dude, but rather because they make me realize that not only was he a dick to me when I interviewed him for the first time last summer; he’s a dick to every reporter that interviews him.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the recent clip above of Forrest telling an interviewer that his hair is terrible and calling him racist for assuming Griffin was referring to Alistair Overeem when he referenced Cro Cop giving up during a fight in which he got kneed in the groin repeatedly. The reporter was right. Overeem did foul Mirko during a DREAM bout, but Forrest assumed he thought our boy Cheick Kongo looked like "The Demolition Man" and he called him on it.
When I interviewed him after he spent four hours signing autographs at the Toronto MMA Expo, I assumed he was simply being ornery because of the long day he had.
Just before we began the interview, which I waited to conduct after a one-hour delay in which Griffin signed a few extra autographs, he tossed aside the Cage Potato t-shirt I gave him to a girl working the booth, told me he had no idea what CP was and then proceeded to "X" out the devil horns symbol on my shirt, informing me that I now had his autograph. Needless to say, I wasn’t overly keen on doing the interview after the way things got started.
That seems to be Forrest’s MO: insult the reporter at the beginning of the Q&A session and make him feel uncomfortable for the whole interview. The end result is usually an awkward and strange exchange that ends with Griffin smirking and the reporter red-faced and wishing they hadn’t wasted their time talking to him.
Earlier today, Shane Carwintweeted that he expects to return to the Octagon at UFC 125 (January 1st, Las Vegas), but doesn’t have an opponent yet. He also promised that "If I knock my opponent out on 1-1-11 in the 1st round at the 1:11 mark I will give the gloves to a follower on Twitter." In other words, Shane will probably be hanging on to those gloves.
So who is this mystery opponent? The answer might be the most obvious one. Sources have informed MMAFighting.com that the UFC is trying to book Carwin against TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson, though the matchup could be delayed depending on Nelson’s knee surgery recovery. Carwin and Nelson had a brief Twitter feud in August regarding steroids and obesity, so they already seem to dislike each other. Plus, both guys are coming off of nastylosses, so the fight also has a nice redemption angle. Makes sense to us, especially since UFC 125 needs a prominent co-headliner. We expect Carwin to be the odds-on favorite in this one. Who’s picking Big Country for the upset?