(In conjunction with the UFC, Yahoo! Sports will be featuring exclusive blogs from Rich "Ace" Franklin as he readies himself for his main-event showdown with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.)
I've been around long enough in this sport to know it pays to expect the unexpected. And so, when I heard Vitor Belfort had pulled out of his main event slot against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147, I had a feeling I was about to receive an important phone call. This gut feeling then increased once I'd seen a ton of tweets sent to Dana White saying things like ‘Now Vitor is out, put Rich Franklin in, the first fight between him and Wanderlei was awesome’. I’m someone who always steps up when the UFC asks me to - and I was now waiting for the call.
I’ve stepped in before, of course, and even took over from Tito Ortiz to finish off The Ultimate Fighter series in 2010. This was the biggest ask yet, though, simply because it would cause plenty of relocation and days lost traveling.
I took the inevitable call from my manager in Singapore, where I'd been training for four weeks ahead my own fight against Cung Le at UFC 148 on July 7. I had decided to train in Singapore with Cung specifically in mind. Cung has a Sanshou style, and I wanted to be totally prepared for those attacks and kicks. Obviously, now this all becomes irrelevant, as it is Wanderlei rather than Cung whom I must prepare to face on June 23 in Brazil.
Needless to say, Wanderlei is a lot more direct with his attacks and, in order to prepare for this, I’ve literally just got off the plane and am back in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I will kickstart a very short camp with my regular team.
Even though it has flipped my preparations somewhat, I am more than happy to accept the fight with Wanderlei. Our first fight in 2009 was great, and I think a lot of fans will be expecting another great fight second time around. Wanderlei fought me tooth and claw when we went at it in Germany, and he’ll be even more motivated fighting in front of the Brazilian fans.
Also, I think Wanderlei is a different fighter to the one I beat at UFC 99. And I think I am a different fighter, too. Honestly, I think every fighter is different fight to fight. How I fight one night is different to how I fight the next time I am in the Octagon. That said, you pretty much know what Wanderlei's going to do and you pretty much know what I am going to do in there. I think the first fight showed our styles combine for a great fight.
Having gone the full three rounds with Wanderlei first time around, I was happy this rematch was slated for five rounds. Fighting five rounds is more about how you pace the fight, not what you do in training. I always prepare to be in the best shape possible, whether fighting three-rounders of five-rounders.
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When taking the call to fight Wanderlei, the only thing I asked for was a couple of additional pounds in weight. I was then told the fight could be at 190lbs. I made that request because I was on a timetable to get down to 185lbs by July 6 (the scheduled weigh-in day for the Cung Le fight) and with days lost through travelling – first back from from Singapore and then over to Brazil - I just didn’t think I could make 185lbs under those circumstances for UFC 147. I know five pounds doesn’t sound like much, but I will be very glad for the additional pounds come weigh-in day in Brazil.
All in all, I’m just happy to be back in a big fight. I don’t think people realize how serious an injury I've had to live with these last few months. For those that don't know, I had a 90% tear in my rotor cuff in my shoulder. I did it training and then, later in the day, came to the realization that it wasn't your normal heal itself type of injury. The pain was excruciating.
When the doctors told me the extent of the injury, it was a little worrying. As bad as knee surgeries are, you can recover okay because the knee only moves in two directions. Shoulders, on the other hand, move more than any other joint in your body. So, after the surgery, I had to sleep in a chair for over a month. I couldn’t lie down at all, as that would have torn the ligaments again. To compensate, I had to build myself a throne of pillows each night and try to get forty minutes here and forty minutes there, sleeping while sat straight up.
Gradually, I was allowed to move it a little and, now, it feels as good as ever. I’m ready to come back and get back in there. I’m ready for Wanderlei and Brazil.
UFC 147 will be live on Pay-Per-View, including on Yahoo! Sports, on Saturday June 23 at 7pm PT, 10pm ET
Follow me on Twitter at @RichFranklin
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