It’s been more than two years since Rich Franklin actually stepped foot in the UFC Octagon for a fight and the fact of the matter is he may never step foot in there again, but until he believes the sport has truly passed him by, there’s still a chance he will return.
Franklin, 40, has been occupying his time outside the cage with numerous business ventures, as well as a becoming an executive at One Championships, a MMA promotion putting on shows throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
He opened a natural juice bar at one point and now has become a major investor in a product he swears by called ‘Armor Gel’, which acts as a protective substance to help prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases like staph infections on the skin as well as a wound dressing gel.
Article continues below ...
Despite no fight in his immediate future, Franklin is still in the gym, training at least once a day. Most days he’s there at least two times for weight lifting, mitt work, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or boxing. The fact is until Franklin’s body tells him he can no longer keep up this kind of schedule, the door to return is still cracked open ever so slightly.
"There will come a day and I realize that I’m no longer physically able to keep up. I can’t do it. When that day comes, I’ll know and I have the ability to look back and say that I can no longer do it anymore," Franklin told FOX Sports. "I’m not there yet. I’m conducting myself like I’m still going to fight again."
Age seems to be the biggest factor working against a potential comeback for Franklin because the longer he waits to fight, the older he gets and eventually time will run out on competing again.
There will come a day and I realize that I’m no longer physically able to keep up. When that day comes, I’ll know and I have the ability to look back and say that I can no longer do it anymore. I’m not there yet. I’m conducting myself like I’m still going to fight again
— Rich Franklin
But just like former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who has been out of action for more than a year and has given no indication that he’s going to come back, Franklin knows there’s still a chance and until that expires, you’ll never hear the word retirement come from his lips.
"It’s just the mindset of a person. Somebody like Georges St-Pierre probably has a mindset where he thinks like me," Franklin explained. "I’m sure in his mind he’s like ‘I still have some fight left in me and I’m not 100-percent sure I want to retire and if I’m not sure, I’m not going to say it’.
"The day he wakes up and he’s no longer able to do that, I’m sure he’ll say he’s retired and the chances of him coming back are pretty much zero."
Franklin knows part of his desire to potentially fight again comes from the competitive spirit that lives inside of him and virtually all professional athletes. It’s the reason why all-time greats like Michael Jordan and Brett Favre just couldn’t stay away even after saying they were retired on multiple occasions.
"Everything that I do in life, I’m competitive by nature," Franklin said. "If you get on the basketball court with me and I’m an average player at best, I will talk trash the whole time I’m on that court. If we’re outside throwing the football, I’ll take a couple of steps back to throw the football and then you’ll take a couple of steps back to throw the football and we’re going to continue that process until we can see who can actually throw the ball farther. It’s just the way that I’m made, I love to compete.
"That will never go away. I will always be that guy."
It’s nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t in his situation to understand how he feels, but Franklin draws one comparison to a famous Tom Cruise movie if anybody is curious just how competitive athletes can be and how hard it is to give that up.
"The best way to describe the way an athlete thinks — if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Days of Thunder’, remember when the two racecar drivers are discharging from the hospital and the one guy is rolling down the hallway in his wheelchair and the other guy speeds up and rolls into his wheelchair and comes ahead of him," Franklin describes.
"It goes into this full on race between these guys in the wheelchairs. Then they do the same thing in rental cars. No matter what, you just can’t take that love, that desire, that burn for competition away from somebody that has it. It just never goes away."
Franklin isn’t giving up on fighting again, but he’s also prepared if that never happens as well. Between his gig at One Championship and his new role as an investor and brand ambassador for Armor Gel, Franklin has plenty to keep him busy.
But whether he’s 40 or 80, don’t expect Franklin to give up competing even if it’s not inside the UFC Octagon.
"Just don’t end up in the same retirement home as me," Franklin joked. "It would always be a competition to me like let’s see who can race on these walkers and get down the hallway the fastest. I’ll be that guy."