It was clear to his fans, in fact it was clear to anybody watching, that Rich Franklin was not focussed when he entered the Octagon to defend his belt against Anderson Silva. This became all the more evident as Silva proceeded to dominate him and punish him with the result that he lost the belt and left the Octagon a very different man. Dana White even stated “I never in a million years expected it to go that way.”
During his pre-event interview on UFC.com, Rich stated that it didn’t matter whether he was winning a belt or losing a belt, what did matter was winning or losing and that he didn’t like to lose. With that in mind, what was going on in the Silva fight?
“I had a lot of factors in my life that caused a lack of focus. I’ve had to take a step back and take a look at the approach I have not only to training but also to life in general and I’ve changed quite a bit in my life to help me be more focussed, and I feel more prepared.”
Rich is so prepared that in the UFC .com video he states “I would knock Jason out in the first round.” This is a big prediction to make after facing such a devastating loss. Does this show that Rich has regained his confidence and focus and that he truly believes he can knock Jason out? It should be borne in mind that no-one has knocked Jason out to date so it would be an accomplishment of sorts if he could do this. Why does Rich feel so confident?
“Just to set the record straight the video clip that you saw on UFC.com was a clip taken when they asked me “in a perfect world how does the fight end”. I said “in a perfect world it would be first round knockout and I’d go and enjoy the rest of the evening with my family. So what you’re seeing there is a slice of the video. You’ve never in the past seen me make a prediction like a first round knockout for a fight and I’m never going to be one of the type of people that do that. So that’s the story on the video.”
It seems that one can never trust the media, even the in-house media. What a fickle bunch of headline grabbers we are!
Pre-fight training isn’t solely a physical preparation. There is also a great deal of mental preparation needed in order to enter the correct mindset and to convince yourself that you are going to win, that you’re going to dominate your opponent and that nothing about him scares or worries you. It is therefore a great shock to the mind when you lose, especially if you lose because you took a knee to the face followed by two left-leg shin kicks, a punch and another knee. Did Rich go through a period where he had confidence issues?
“Yes. I think every fighter goes through this. I sat around for a couple of days and tried to figure out what I did wrong, where I made the error, was I under training, over training, you start to question a lot of things. I went through that for several days and pretty much in my case came to no conclusions and decided to get back on course.”
As Rich has stated, he doesn’t like to lose, so how eager is he to get back into the ring?
“There’s that competitive side in me that wants to prove that I can get back into fighting quickly…. fighting in Ohio is going to be great. I don’t know how much of a difference it will make with regard to pumping me up for the fight.”
There are many questions that fighters don’t like to answer and one of them is about the sort of preparation they have done with regard to their next opponent. Although many seem to have pegged Jason as the underdog in this fight, Rich doesn’t agree.
“I think Jason said it best when he said about not being a stepping stone. I know that going into this fight he’s proved to be a tough competitor, so I’m looking personally on Friday night to be having a tough fight. I know that this is not going to be one of those fights where you get a first round knockout he doesn’t have the name ‘Athlete’ for no reason at all. He gets into great condition for every fight and I’m looking for a hard fight.”
With a height disadvantage, the knowledge that he lost his belt in his previous fight and the knowledge that Jason is regarded by many fans to be a stepping stone (regardless as to what Rich, Dana or Jason think), there is an incredible amount of pressure for Rich Franklin to win this fight and to win it well.