Interview With Rich Franklin
Former Middle-Weight UFC World Champion
Rich Franklin answers phone:
Builtmag: What’s up bro! Thanks for making some time man.
Rich: Of course man, I’m going to be stuck in the car for a while, I’m driving to see my mom before I leave the country again.
Builtmag: Well, let me insert the “awwww” from everyone reading this. Good for you man, momma first.
Builtmag; Hey was that George Michael playing when you answered?
Rich: Um…no! Ok, fine. My MP3 is on random, and don’t ask me why that is even in my MP3 to begin with.
Builtmag: I didn’t know you liked George Michael, that kind of brings up one of the questions I was going to ask you, what a smooth transition! Since this is a pretty unconventional interview, give me a few favorite musicians.
Rich: well that’s hard, I’m kind of all over the board with music. I am the type of person who may be listening to Led Zeppelin one minute, Jack Johnson the next, switch to some Tupac…and apparently sprinkle in a little George Michael. If I had to pick a current favorite popular musician, I’d say Bruno Mars.
Builtmag: You always walk out to AC/DC, are they on your top 10?
Rich: I think ACDC is a staple no MP3 should be without.
Builtmag: Well I’d hope you do, ‘MERICA! But seriously, you better love AC/DC.
I’d say I’m surprised by Bruno mars, but that’s interesting!
Rich: He’s such a diverse musician, have you listened to his music?
Builtmag:….. ehh, no. Honestly..
Rich: He does funk, pop, blues, and could probably pull off country if he wanted. He’s just a talented artist and plays a half-of-a-dozen instruments. I hear his concert amazing.
Builtmag: Ok, I get that. If you don’t like some funk songs I feel like you don’t have a pulse haha.
Builtmag: So a lot of people know your story a little bit, I always hear, “Oh yeah wasn’t he the math teacher?” But want to give us a quick rundown of your background? And how you got into fighting? Or why you got into fighting?
Rich: I grew up an athlete, and played several sports. Football was my first love, but I didn’t start for my high school team. I started taking martial arts after my last season my senior year of high school. God blessed me with a talent for combat sports. When I went to college to major in education, I spent ALL my free time training…very goal oriented, I’ve never even had a sip of alcohol. Anyway, it was just a hobby, and I began teaching high school math. Teaching was a great job, but I grew up dreaming of being a superhero or a professional athlete, but I was fresh out of super powers. After 4 years of full time teaching, I took a risk to pursue a dream.
Builtmag: Yeah, I remember sitting in a Hooters in Fort Lauderdale watching you fight Ken Shamrock. I had only seen you fight once before, and when you knocked him out I thought- WHOA who is this guy. What a way to make a name, KO a legend! I can relate about the dreams, I still want to be a superhero, haven’t quite figured that out yet.
Rich: It seemed like my life changed overnight. I used to put my signature on a piece of paper called a report card that kids wanted to throw away… went from that to putting my signature on a piece of paper a kid would stand in line for few hours.
Builtmag: Well you were clearly doing something right! I’ve known you for quite a while now, I know you are also well read on nutrition, I picked up a lot from you too that I still incorporate into daily life. How important is nutrition to fighting? You think that was a big part of your edge? And what do you think is something that should be included in a daily routine for nutritional health? I remember on a trip of ours, you started every single day with a specific greens shake, a little berries and stuff, pretty sure we ate that little town out of spinach that week. What would be an example?
Rich: Yeah nutrition is overlooked by too many people. We are a precision instrument; you can’t live off poor food sources and expect to perform at a high level. I remember making those shakes from that blender built into the counter with the 1982 technology on that skiing trip. I think I still have the video of us trying to figure that thing out. I still blend a shake every morning, but use a much better blender. It would typically be a combination of spinach, kale, parsley, turmeric and a little fruit.
Builtmag: That blender was awful! Glad to hear you updated a bit at home. This is a nutrition education based site, so on topic, how do you feel about multi-vitamins, supplements etc?
Rich: Well most multi vitamins unfortunately aren’t from sources that work for us humans. They’re not bio-available sources of vitamins, so we aren’t able to absorb the nutrients we think we’re getting. If you can find a good plant based multi, I’d say it’s worth a try, but quality still comes down to how those things are processed. I rely on those sometimes when I’m traveling for example, but I try to get my vitamins and minerals from real food…hence the shakes.
I will use protein powders, and just consider that part of my nutrition. Again, I would prefer a solid meal, but 6-7 solid meals per day can become quite cumbersome, so a shake here and there helps keep me on track…especially when I am traveling. I will use other supplements like Aminos or creatine to aid in recovery from training.
Builtmag: Slow clap from us here at Builtmag, slow clap.
Builtmag: You do a lot of work with Veterans, war vets, and disabled vets. What kind of inspiration do you get from them, what you learn from them?
Rich: You can learn so much from spending time with a disabled vet. Lessons on faith, determination, perspective…you name it. I met a triple amputee with 70 percent loss in his hearing from an IED blast. He viewed everyday as an opportunity, rather than being bitter from his injuries. I asked him what the first thing he planned to do when he was discharged from the hospital. Fully expecting some enlightened answer, he said, “Go eat a Big Mac!” Talk about putting your problems in perspective.
Builtmag: If someone were to tell you they had aspirations of being a professional MMA fighter, what advice would you give?
Rich: People read my story and think I was teaching one day and just decided to be a world champion the next. Easy, right? I could go on about work ethic and dedication, blah, blah, blah. I’ve met some dedicated athletes that had no tolerance for getting punched in the face. If you have all those qualities and a bunch of other things necessary, then I would say: Be smart, treat this like a career and make good decisions. My intelligence and heart took me places my talent could not alone!
Builtmag: Let’s be a little bit less professional I feel like this is a real interview, now it’s weird. What’s going on with ONE Championship? I’ve followed what I can through your posts, you took the position with the as VP, that’s a pretty big deal, seems exciting?
Rich: We have some amazing things going on at ONE Championship. In the year and a half I have been with the company, we have expanded to 3 or 4 new regions with tremendous effort on China at the moment. I handle so many different things from the broadcast side to athlete services and business development. Watching a brand continue to grow, and being part of a great to making that happen is exciting.
Builtmag: We had a few questions from fans I’m going to ask you while we chat. One wanted to know if there were any fights you look back on as a favorite memory, or something to be proud of. What would that be for you?
Rich: People expect me to talk about a highlight reel knockout, but my worst winning performance comes to mind. I actually touched on this in my Ted talk, “How To Be A Loser,” where I discuss dealing with failures.
Every single thing I had drilled for my 10 week fight prep went wrong during the fight. He moved in, got the take down, took full mount position. I mentally broke in that fight, and figured it was all but over. I ended up baiting him with an arm bar…it was something we saw on tape, although we had not drilled the escape. Luckily for me, he went for it and I timed the escape well. I was able to roll out of the position and get back to my feet, ended up winning the fight. Overcoming those moral defeats, when everything went wrong, coming back to win, that would be my favorite fight. (Whole ted talk here)
Builtmag: Yeah, I love that Ted talk, I’ve watching it a few times. You’ve done a few small acting roles, is that something you want to pursue more of?
Rich: I find it very challenging to portray a character or even an emotion. Just to replicate this conversation on a movie script would not be easy. I had fun doing the films I worked in, and would love to be a part of future projects. I think an action comedy would be fun to do.
Builtmag: When whispers of your retirement started coming about, you’re remembered so positively. I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative word about you, always that you’re a great champion, humble, respectful and always came to fight. That has to make you feel pretty good to know there is not a bad word said about you. So many athletes get the, “Oh man he was a dick I hate that guy”, I’d say you’re one of the most loved MMA athletes that has come through the game.
Rich: I will quote Kat Williams here, “Jesus only had 12 friends and he was perfect, but one of them even hated him.” I’m sure I have some “haters”, but I have always tried to be respectful to my opponents and fans, and genuine in my interviews. I believe that helped, because people feel like they can really connect with me.
Builtmag: So the official retirement from fighting came earlier this year. Are you old enough to have a 5 year plan now? Is that what adults that retire early do?? What are you going to be focused on?
Rich: I had to quit doing what I love during the time I’m supposed to be having a mid-life crisis. My 5 year plan is to buy sports cars I don’t need, get a few tattoos I will later regret, and make as many bad decisions as possible 🙂
On a serious note, God has blessed me with a career in the industry outside the cage with ONE Championship. Although I’m “retired,” I believe I am busier now than I have been in the last decade. I can’t even carve out the time we need for our skydiving trip 🙂
Builtmag: Yeah, what the heck man, work on that, priorities dude. I feel neglected.