Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin has done it all in the sport of mixed martial arts.
From fighting the big names to winning championships and delivering highlight reel finishes, Franklin’s legacy will be something for future generations of MMA fans to discuss.
Despite the 36-year-old’s achievements, he still remains a very down to earth and humble individual and believes in taking time for his fans.
“A genuine fan, I’ll take time for a genuine fan any day of the week,” Franklin told MMAWeekly Radio.
“You can tell a lot of times when people are a genuine fan. When some guy walks up and is just in awe, and he doesn’t know what to say, and he’s like, ‘man, my brother is a huge fan too. If I put him on the phone would you just say hi to him?’ I’ll be like, ‘yeah, sure man, put him on the phone.’ I don’t mind doing that stuff. I like to do that stuff. I like to make peoples’ days.”
The kindness Franklin shares with his fans comes partly from how he saw his own brother being treated back when he was 21 years old. He and his younger brother were valet parking cars at a restaurant and were shown poor treatment from football and baseball star Deion Sanders. From that moment, Franklin vowed that if he were ever famous, he would never treat his fans like that.
“I remember when I was in college, I’ll never forget, my brother and I were valeting cars at a really nice restaurant in downtown Cincinnati at the time. My brother looks down the corner and my brother goes, ‘that’s Deion Sanders.’ He was playing for the Cincinnati Reds at the time and (my brother) goes ‘man, I’d sure like to get his autograph.’ So I said, ‘go ask him for his autograph,’ and he said ‘I don’t know.’ So I said, ‘come on man, I’ll walk over there with you.
“I’m a 21-year-old kid and my brother is like 18 or 19 and we walk over there. I’m standing a few feet politely away from my brother, and my brother goes, ‘hey, Deion, can I get your autograph?’ and Deion was just really, really rude to my brother, to the point where I felt bad for him for even asking and I was the one encouraging him to do it. I just remember when we walked away I told my brother, ‘I swear if I was ever famous, I would never, ever be rude to a fan like that.’ I would never turn someone down for an autograph.”
The Cincinnati resident wants nothing more than to help out his fans and send positive messages their way, so that they can get through their day and the hard times in life.
“I’ve had many e-mail responses and people write in to Facebook and it’ll just be something that I said to them, and you don’t realize on a daily basis what kind of impact you have on somebody’s life.
“I could make a comment about Jesus or say something positive about when they’re having a bad day or maybe they’re going through a health problem and give them that ‘don’t give up the fight.’ Just one little saying that comes out of my mouth, something that didn’t mean anything to me, but meant the world to them. Like I said, you never know what kind of impact you have on someone else, so, for someone that is a genuine fan, I’d take all day.”
Franklin returns to action on Aug. 6 at UFC 133 in Philadelphia. He faces Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the night’s co-main event. Rashad Evans headlines the card against late-replacement Tito Ortiz.