(In his next fight, Bader would like to face someone of great historical significance. Anybody got Kimo’s number? Pic: MMA Convert.)
Contrary to popular belief, the UFC middleweight division has not quite cornered the market on making strategically advantageous call-outs. While the world’s 185-pound fighters are lining up to let everybody know how much they’d all love to fight Michael Bisping – which is like so 2010 – their light heavyweight brethren are also making requests of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. It seems that at least a couple of 205-pounders have been spending some time on the “Fighters” page over at UFC.com and thinking to themselves, “Let’s see here, who can I beat?”
Ryan Bader, for one, emerged this week from whatever dark room he’s been huddled in, rocking back and forth since UFC 126 to tell ESPN.com he’d very much like to fight Tito Ortiz. Cuz, why not? Sure, just a withered shell of his former self, Ortiz hasn’t won a fight since 2006, is barely clinging to his career and seemingly can’t make it to the cage without a serious back injury, cracked skull or giant laceration over his eye, but still … fighting him would mean A LOT to Bader. You know, on a personal level.
Franklin lost the fight by unanimous decision, and we quickly forgot about this silly business — except Franklin didn’t. An MMAFighting report came out Friday claiming that Ace had actually visited a tattoo shop to honor the bet that nobody thought was real. Responding to the news, Griffin said:
(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.