KO: When exactly were you offered this match up against
Chuck Liddell for UFC 115?
RF: While the
The Ultimate Fighter was filming, I got a call from Dana, There was a bout a week left of taping,
so about late March. Dana called
and said that Tito got injured and he needed someone to step up and fight
because Tito was going to have surgery.
He simply said I need you to come for the last week of filming so they
could then begin hyping the fight.
So that was on a Wednesday and I was in Vegas on Thursday.
KO: Were you
suspicious when he called – it is reality TV?
RF: Yes, I
got on the plane because Dana asked me to and the they needed a coach for the
final week, but I didn’t know what I was going to be walking into – it is
reality TV. I went out there
blind. I was concerned about what
I was going to be involved in aside from coaching too. I didn’t want to be thrown into any
KO: What were
your biggest concerns?
RF: I was concerned that I had been set up to surprise
Chuck or Tito and they would be told when I showed up and I did not know if
Tito was going to be at the training center when I showed up to take over
training the team. I also
did not want to walk in on Chuck to surprise him as his new opponent or as some
company man after Tito and him [Chuck Liddell] has gotten into some big fight.
KO: Was that the case?
RF: No, Tito
was not there when I arrived, he was already gone and I took over the team and
it became Team Franklin.
KO: What was your first priority when you arrived?
RF: To take make Team Franklin get Chris McCray ready for
his fight. I focused on getting
him ready for his fight, I rolled with some of the other guys, but mainly
focused on getting Chris ready.
KO: Were you
concerned about only getting the news of your next fight with 11 weeks to
RF: No, I was
already in shape and I do a standard 8 week prep for fights. I don’t let myself get out of
shape. I was already back to
training and doing a lot of stuff and choose drills specific for Chuck. I catered my technical training to
aspects of Chuck’s style did you feel you needed to prepare for and adjust to
in your 8 week training?
giving too many specifics before the fight, we [my training team and myself],
really broke down Chuck and the fact that he did start executing takedowns in
the last couple years and working them. I looked at how he shoots for the
takedown, so I can adjust to approach.
Also, you have to train to see his big right cross and upper that he can
throw while backing up. But
overall, I needed to break down his stand up.
KO: Do you
think this will become a match up of two highly stylized stand up fighters?
RF: I don’t
think this fight will unfold the way everyone expects. Chuck can and will throw all his big
shots, but I am prepping for the dynamic to change and his game plan to be out
of his norm.
KO: Do you
think this is the best approach for Chuck – he needs to try something new and
be less predictable. His
game when Champ was stellar and sharp, but the game has evolved and therefore
intelligent fighters have had time to pick his style apart?
RF: I am not
sure exactly how to answer that, but I do think Chuck will use more than his
right cross. I expect him to come
capable of doing everything.
KO: You have
a history of meeting your friends in the cage? How do you feel about fighting Chuck, your pal?
RF: A lot of
people ask if it is hard to fight your friends for money, and truth is I fight
them for free every day in training.
I punch my friends in the head every week. David Loiseau is a good friend and so is Evan Tanner, Matt
Hamill and Chuck are all friends.
You can not help but build good relationships with guys you was faced
many times and you have worked along side of over the years.
KO: Do you
ever worry about being the cause of their serious injury? Although I imagine you have the
profession skill set and emotional control to make sure things do not go too
far – when the refs are even a second behind what you are seeing and witnessing,
RF: I do not
worry about hurting them. But I am
aware in every moment of the fight.
In fact when I fought Nate Quarrey I remember looking up at Big John
[McCarthy], wondering if he was going to step in. Nate and I were exchanging- we were going back and forth on
our feet and I was landing so much,
I was getting the better of him at the moment. As he laid out and I sprawled, getting punching lots of
punches in- I looked up at John, because he was not responding and John said to
keep going and I didn’t want to because I thought Nate was done. At least with David, a real bloody
fight, he was fighting back all the time.
But I have never had someone in a submission and they just simply
refused to tap.
KO: So how has it been prepping for a different weight
class? From what I remember last time we spoke, 205 is a fairly comfortable
weight and natural for you. No
cutting weight this time around.
RF: When I
was fighting at 185, making weight was such an event. If you don’t make weight you are in trouble. In fact, George came over this morning
so we could do our last hard conditioning workout in the pool and I asked him
if I should even bother packing my sauna suit. We decided that I would just in case, since there is always
a chance we could miscalculate my weight.
But, I woke up at 211.5 pounds this morning. I was never a real big guy for even 205. I am 35 years old,
so I don’t think I am going to change my natural weight. It has been a much better experience
this time around not cutting weight.