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Rich Franklin talks TUF and his toughest opponent

So it’s about as official as it’s gonna get before it actually happens: the winner of the Rich Franklin vs Dan Henderson fight is gonna get stuck with TUF coach duty. Rich Franklin confirmed it during yesterday’s UFC 93 press conference, although he made sure to do it in his best “Teenager asked to take out the garbage” impression.

Lots of people are wondering why Rich is so bummed out. After all, TUF means more popularity, and popularity means more money, and to top it off you get a wash of a fight against Michael Bisping, who has as much chance of beating either Hendo or Rich as I stand of having a good ol’ Gryffindor orgy with the female cast of Harry Potter. Hey, that might have been gross back in 2001 but Hermione is totally fair game now.

Anyways, what some people fail to consider is that Rich just spent the last 7 months working his ass off to build his frame up at 205. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you as you plump yourself up to heavyweight on Pringles and Mr Pibb, but yeah … it is. Asking him to go back down to 185 is like saying “Yeah, sorry about wasting half a year of your life. We didn’t quite think that one through, did we?” Also tough for many to comprehend: some guys actually fight for the challenge, so getting stuck having to fight a dude who’s beneath them sucks.

Ah well … at the very least, Rich seems to have a pretty good grasp on what to expect as a TUF coach. He has a slew of years as a high school teacher under his belt and was already the coach for season two. In an e-newsletter he sent today, he drew on both while trying to explain why the toughest opponent isn’t Anderson Silva, it’s “yourself”:

When I was teaching math at Oak Hills high school in Cincinnati, I daily encountered a stream of reasons for undone homework and blown tests. There were always some students who had an inability to blast their way through the hard demands. Faced with a math concept they couldn’t readily grasp, they’d turn against the academic challenge. Those students are like bad drivers who, when into an icy skid, can’t resist the impulse to turn against it. As a teacher I learned that in tough situations, you have to go with and not against in order to prevail.

Whether it’s learning new mma techniques, understanding math principles, or any daunting task, failing to master it keeps a person from forging ahead.

After all my years of fighting, I am well aware that I can’t confront my octagon opponent if I can’t first control myself. It remains a struggle for me to accept my free will, and the responsibility that comes with it. But it’s either that or avoid those tasks which I know I need to be doing.

Not creating my own impairments is what’s on my mind, especially two months before a fight. When I was a coach on The Ultimate Fighter series, I was always surprised at how some fighters gleefully sabotaged their own fight goals. They even seemed to work towards making a wreckage of their entire lives. Other fighters on TUF displayed some of the finest qualities of my best math students. These were the guys who had an integration of thought, feeling and action. They maintained a balance between their strong emotion to succeed, coupled with clear thoughts about how to go about their work. And they turned to action – shutting out distraction and getting down to it.

I dunno, I still think “Anderson Silva” kills “Yourself” 99 times out of 100, no matter how ‘in control’ you may be.