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Monday, 06/04/2012, 07:56 am

EXCLUSIVE | Rich Franklin Talks Replacing Vitor Against Silva, Le


Call him what you want but Rich Franklin is a company man. Initially scheduled to face Cung Le at UFC 148, Franklin now faces Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 147 after Wanderlei’s opponent Vitor Belfort was injured. Rich has stepped up and filled spots before, but his fight with Le was to be his first officially back in the UFC middleweight division. Not to mention that his new opponent is one of the best strikers in MMA history – who Franklin already faced and won a very close decision over. Rich has never backed down from a fight, but his decision on taking this fight with Silva on short notice wasn’t easy.

“Initially, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to fill in this spot”, Franklin said. “I was in Singapore on the complete opposite side of the earth preparing for a specific kind of opponent. My prep was cut 2 weeks, and I had to get on a plane IMMEDIATELY to come home and make adjustments necessary”.

Franklin had been overseas training and bringing in opponents that had styles closely resembling Cung Le’s. Like Franklin told BJpenn.com earlier this month, “Cung is an entirely different kind of opponent”. With the change of opponents coming in the middle of his preparations for Le, Rich felt he has to move quickly.

“I’ve been home a day and a half, and we have yet to do a tape breakdown on Wand again. That’s like night and day. Southpaw to Conventional, aggressive vs. passive, and their styles are completely different”.

Every fighter changes and evolves from fight to fight. Wanderlei may not be the fighter he was in Pride, but he is still dangerous. Rich knows what it takes to beat Silva from their first encounter, and he also knows that Wanderlei now knows what he brings to the table. Rich is a smart fighter who gets to know his opponents beforehand even the second time around.

“Again, I need to look at the tapes on him”, said Rich. “The core of a fighter will remain the same, but I need to evaluate whether or not Wanderlei has developed any new tricks in his game that he didn’t have the last time we fought”.

The same problem of a change in opponents could be challenging Wanderlei’s camp. Unlike the change from Le to Silva, Rich doesn’t see much difference between he and Silva’s former opponent Vitor Belfort.

“In my opinion, not much honestly”, said Franklin. “We are both well rounded southpaw strikers, so in that sense the switch is a bit advantageous for Wand. If I didn’t think I could win this fight, I would not have accepted it”.

Franklin also told BJPenn.com earlier this month that the Le fight interested him, and that he was looking forward to it. Rich has almost always been a ‘go with the flow’ type of guy so when asked if he thought he would get the chance to face Le anytime soon, Rich laughed.

“I’ve learned not to try to predict my future opponents in this sport”.

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