UFC veteran Rich Franklin’s hopes of making one last title run in the middleweight division were crushed last November when he suffered a KO loss to Cung Le, and it appears the former champion’s days in the sport may now be numbered.
Since that defeat the 38 year-old has gone fairly quiet, choosing to focus his attention on securing his future after his MMA career finishes by lining up a new organic juice business in Los Angeles, but in a series of new interviews over the last week he’s sent out mixed signals about what comes next for him inside the Octagon.
Speaking to The MMA Hour last week, Franklin sought to assure fans that despite the tough loss he wasn’t on the verge of hanging up his gloves.
“I haven’t been sitting on my end thinking about retirement,” Franklin told Ariel Helwani. “I don’t want any of the fans out there to think, ‘Oh, Rich is just out there contemplating retiring.'”
However, in a separate interview with Yahoo! Sports this weekend he appears to contradict that statement.
“I’m not sure if I have one or two more fights left on my UFC contract, but do I fulfill the contract or just do one more fight and then retire?” he wonders aloud during the interview. “I think about these things on a daily basis, but my intent at this point in time is to fight again.”
In the interview Franklin also acknowledges that after a 14 year run in the sport the hands of time may finally be catching up with him.
“I wake up with bumps and bruises and aches and pains, but I feel pretty good at this age, and I know that if I train for another five years, it’s really going to tear into me. I can feel a difference now preparing for a fight as opposed to even three, four or five years ago. There’s a big difference.”
That would appear to indicate that he is leaning towards calling it quits – but if that is the case then it appears he’s not just looking to go out with an easy win, instead floating Michael Bisping’s name as a potential next opponent for him.
“I look at my Twitter and a lot of people talk about (Michael) Bisping,” Franklin says. “That would be an exciting fight and something the fans would want to see. I’m an exciting fighter, he’s an exciting fighter, and we both like to throw down.”
Overall, it looks as if Franklin really has still to come to a final decision about his future in the sport, but at this stage the signs do point to him doing so sooner rather than later.