Back in June, when Rich Franklin was readying to fight Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147, the 38-year-old veteran admitted on The MMA Hour that he'd been mulling over whether or not to jump aboard the testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) bandwagon. Even at the time, it wasn't surprising to hear. Plenty of Franklin's peers publicly acknowledged taking TRT, many of whom were actually younger than Franklin.
Yet, Franklin never followed through on his musings, and instead stormed back from near-defeat to claim a unanimous decision victory over Silva in Brazil. All of this without a single ounce of synthetic testosterone in his system.
In many ways, the win was perfect validation of what Franklin already knew. And apparently, it ended the debate in his head.
"The public perception of TRT is that it's cheating," Franklin recently explained to ESPN. "The moment I said I was actually thinking about it, I started getting quite a bit of backlash.
"I don't believe I've dropped off with my speed or strength or any of that. You can't look at my last fight and say, ‘Yeah, Rich has lost a step and is looking older.' ... When that day comes, perhaps I will consider quitting or possibly taking TRT. More than likely, in my mind, I'll choose retirement over the necessity of TRT to continue."
And just like that, Franklin shows all over again why he's so respected in this sport. Way to take a stand, Ace.
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Franklin would retire before taking TRT. In an interview with ESPN, former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin said when the day comes, he'll choose retirement over "the necessity of TRT to continue."
Hughes lost his desire. UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes admitted that while he isn't ready to announce his retirement from mixed martial arts just yet, the 39-year-old "lost the desire" to compete within the past year.
Big Nog fought with broken rib. Speaking with Tatame, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira revealed he suffered a broken rib three weeks prior to his UFC 153 bout against Dave Herman. Nogueira went on to win via second-round armbar.
The MMA hour. Ariel Helwani and The MMA Hour return with a jam-packed show featuring Matt Hughes, Dustin Poirier, Tyrone Spong, Cung Le and Matthew Riddle.
Pettis hospitalized. Maligned lightweight contender Anthony "Showtime" Pettis was hospitalized with a staph infection in his elbow late Monday night, according to a report from Inside MMA. The infection struck the same arm with which Pettis recently underwent shoulder surgery.
RZA talks Le, 'Man With the Iron Fists.' Legendary Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA discussed his relationship with UFC middleweight Cung Le, the pair's upcoming martial arts film, and potential Wu-Tang projects for the future.
Part 1 of when to use BJJ in real life: If a guy is threatening your life with a machete, take him down, climb into mount and finish things off.
Part 2 of when to use BJJ in real life: If a guy is belligerent on the metro and his back is to you, BOOM, rear-naked choke time.
This one is a little crazy. From 1913 -- yes, almost a hundred years ago -- this may potentially be the oldest catch wrestling footage in existence. Gustav Fristensky vs. Josef Smejkal in Prague, Czech Republic.
(HT: Bloody Elbow)
Whether it's men or women, brutal knockouts don't discriminate.
(Props to @Pegson for the find.)
And of course, we cap things off with another ridiculous playlist from Zombie Prophet. 51 videos, 51 knockouts. Go ahead and dive right in. If you like what you see, throw Zombie a subscription on his YouTube channel.
Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) October 22, 2012
@bjornrebney A champion is a champion regardless if she is fighting up a weight, u use her image to promote the posters & then put her on— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) October 22, 2012
@bjornrebney The undercard?! Blows my mind..... This is the 2nd time too you have done this I tell you what I would rather never fight MMA..— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) October 22, 2012
Learning new things training in Brazil. Hot sun & Big butts! 👍— Jake Ellenberger (@EllenbergerMMA) October 22, 2012
Officer Sanchez i could see this in my future after fighting is done twitter.com/DiegoSanchezUF…— Diego Sanchez UFC (@DiegoSanchezUFC) October 22, 2012
Just had a dream I was about to beat up Billie Joel in the tool section at Sears for talking sh*t. He was carrying a live chicken and a gun— Sean McCorkle (@BigSexyMcCorkle) October 22, 2012
Announced yesterday (Monday, October 22, 2012):
- UFC 155: Brad Pickett (22-6) vs. Eddie Wineland (19-8-1)
- UFC 155: Erik Perez (12-4) vs. Byron Bloodworth (6-2)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day sees zanesimon call out: The Greatest Lie Joe Rogan Ever Told - The weird body archetype of MMA
I won't pin this all on Joe Rogan, it's been floating around for a while now, but it's certainly a common theme on Rogan's lips. "Jon Jones is the future of MMA." You could easily replace Jon Jones with Rory MacDonald, Phil Davis, or any of a handful of other fighters who might be considered "physical specimens." It's an interesting commentary, even if it's been used often enough to become cliché, because it lives on the borders of truth.
There is a trend, which has really been ongoing since this sports inception, of better athletes entering the sport at younger and younger ages. And because of this trend it has become a popular talking point that we are merely at the beginning of MMA evolution. That we have yet to see the truly great athletes, with incredible martial backgrounds step into the octagon (or ring if you want to be ubiquitous about it). For a while, I even bought it. "Yeah, I thought, just imagine the incredible athletes of the future competing in hand to hand combat. Awesome!" And then I thought about it, and then I became skeptical, and now, I'm here, writing this.
I don't think we'll ever see a much stronger field of athletic talent in the UFC than there is right now. This may be excepting the heavyweight division which has yet to really pull big athletes from countries that don't have sports where being big is an incredible advantage (i.e. football, rugby), but boxing's been around for 150 years in its present form, and it's heavyweight division is none too deep.
One of the big reasons for my skepticism, is a look at what makes some of this sports better athletes so successful, and often it's a combination of skills, traits, and physicality that would leave them ill-suited for other major professional sports. Jones is a prime example of MMA's funky body archetype, not because there are a wealth of similar athlete's in MMA, but because he typifies a body type and athleticism that seems more translatable than it is. For his great height, Jones would actually be pretty short for a basketball player (where his skill would seem most fitting), he would be a big point guard, but a pretty small 2 guard, the sort of player that pro NBA teams tend to shy away from unless they have an exceptional skill set. And he, by his namesake "bones" was never really able to put on enough weight to play football, especially at DE, where once again, his height and reach would make him the best fit. Beyond that there aren't many top American pro sports that his physicality would present any kind of actual advantage.
Rory MacDonald may be the real statistical skew, as he is reasonably tall, at 6', and reasonably big and athletic enough to translate to something else, but coming out of Canada, there aren't a lot of big money pro sports, other than hockey. And that sort of decision making is what we've already seen out of MMA and boxing, athletes from countries without many big money pro sports turning to MMA and boxing for a career. But, for them the road is rough and treacherous, success comes provided they can navigate the regional circuit successfully, they enjoy getting hit, and that they hold one last physical gift, a chin.
This brings me to my second point as to why athletic development in MMA may be plateauing. You actually have to like fighting, or at least not mind it, to compete, and you have to be able to get hit without being knocked out. Rampage is a notable exception here as he's gone on record saying he doesn't really like to fight. But he can take a punch, so he's made it work.
In other sports there have been many notable athletes who didn't necessarily love the game they played. Barry Sanders, springs immediately to mind. But for them, the ability to study, show up, and bring their pure talent to the competition was enough to make them good, if not sometimes even great. MMA does not offer many of these outlets. If you have great athletic skill, but can't take a punch, your career will never progress beyond a certain level. Ryan Bader, and Brendan Schaub are prime examples of good solid athletic talents who have seen their careers plateau because of an inability to take damage. Even Brock Lesnar, who had his moment in the sun, had a lot of trouble in his short career because he tended to panic and turtle up whenever he got hit hard (also weird when you consider that he seemed to have a pretty good chin and never actually got knocked out).
Finally, lastly, and possibly least, there's the often touted multifaceted nature of MMA, most specifically there's jiu-jitsu. Unlike wrestling and striking jiu-jitsu is almost a neutralization of athletic advantage. The ability for fighters like Shinya Aoki and Masakazu Imanari to inflict real fight ending damage to their opponents, without a wealth of natural athletic ability (other than both being very flexible) is a great neutralizer. Vitor Belfort showed this with his armbar of Jon Jones, that without using his blazing fast twitch speed he could (almost) neutralize Jones entirely.
All told, MMA is a perilous and complicated sport, the paths to victory are many, and the road to success is arduous. It's hard to see either of those things changing enough that top talents will look to MMA as their first option for a successful career. And because of this it's hard to imagine a future that looks remarkable different than what's already here. Skills may change, preparation may change, but the athlete's probably won't.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.