MPM Certification

PODCAST: From math teacher to MMA World Champion in one month: the power of mental performance training

by Brian Cain, MPM

Today’s episode showcases a Hall of Fame MMA fighter…

He was a high school math teacher in May of 2006, and a UFC World Champion in June of 2006 (that still blows my mind).

He’s the ultimate demonstration of just how powerful mental performance training can be, and I’m excited to share the results he’s seen from our work together.

When I sat down with former UFC Welterweight Champion, Rich “Ace” Franklin, I picked his brain about what’s allowed him to reach this incredible level of success… both inside and outside the octagon.

Rich is an MMA legend. He’s currently a Vice President of One Championship a mixed martial arts organization in Asia, he’s a three-time world champ, and he’s a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. In this episode, Rich opens about some of his biggest matches, discusses the obstacles he’s overcome, and explains how mental performance techniques helped him in his career. (Episode 165)

This podcast episode and the Mental Performance Mastery (MPM) Athlete Case Study I did on my work with Rich are absolute musts for those coaches and athletes wanting to hear first hand from a mixed martial arts world champion how mental performance mastery training makes a difference.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION:

Brian Cain:

Welcome to the Brian Cain Mental Performance Mastery Podcast and today’s guest on the podcast coming from Singapore by way of Cincinnati, Ohio, the former UFC Middleweight Champion, the UFC Hall of Fame fighter and current vice-president of ONE Martial Arts in Asia, please welcome to the podcast, Rich “Ace” Franklin.

Rich Franklin:

Man, I tell you what, Bruce better be looking out because somebody’s gunning for his job, apparently.

Brian Cain:

Rich, how are you doing, man? I’ve been practicing that all day.

Rich Franklin:

I’m good man. The sun has come up here finally, and once again, Brian, I was part of the 5:00 AM Club, but I did not get up this morning to do my road work. I didn’t have enough time. I had some other things I needed to do, so I’ll get my road work in a little bit later today. But by God, this stupid 5:00 AM Club is infectious and I’m blaming you for it and I don’t like it.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, all it is is about resetting that biological clock to getting up and dominating the day and not letting days dominate you, Champ.

Rich Franklin:

You know what, the days don’t ever dominate me. I just start dominating the day, typically, around 7:30 rather than 5:15.

Brian Cain:

Welcome to the Brian Cain Podcast and today’s guest on the podcast coming from Singapore by way of Cincinnati, Ohio, the former UFC Middleweight Champion, the UFC Hall of Fame fighter and current vice-president of ONE Martial Arts in Asia, please welcome to the podcast, Rich “Ace” Franklin.

Rich Franklin:

Man, I tell you what, Bruce better be looking out because somebody’s gunning for his job, apparently.

Brian Cain:

Rich, how are you doing, man? I’ve been practicing that all day.

Rich Franklin:

I’m good man. I’m good. The sun has come up here finally, and once again, Brian, I was part of the 5:00 AM Club, but I did not get up this morning to do my road work. I didn’t have enough time. I had some other things I needed to do, so I’ll get my road work in a little bit later today. But by God, this stupid 5:00 AM Club is infectious and I’m blaming you for it and I don’t like it.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, all it is is about resetting that biological clock to getting up and dominating the day and not letting days dominate you, Champ.

Rich Franklin:

You know what, the days don’t ever dominate me. I just start dominating the day, typically, around 7:30 rather than 5:15.

Brian Cain:

You’re probably staying up a couple of hours later than I am, too, though, so it all evens out in the end, man. As long as you’re getting that sleep and getting that recovery and you’re up being aggressive and on the attack, I’m sure things are going to work out for you.

Rich Franklin:

See, that’s the problem because with everything that’s going on with the pandemic in the world, I’ve had to make a lot of switches lately. We did the first episode of the podcast with you and now I’ve transferred everything to my apartment, so I technically have a studio set up here and was working late yesterday. So I was up until midnight, but once again up at 5:00 in the morning. Although I’m part of the 5:00 AM Club, still not getting that rest and recovery that I needed, but we’ll work on that tonight when I get to bed. Not to-

Brian Cain:

No doubt there. As a former high school teacher turned Mixed Martial Arts World Champion, I’m sure you’ve had a lot of those late nights, whether it’s grading exams or preparing for a fight or training. But, Rich, tell us, man, as a guy that was a high school teacher, how did you ever get into and develop a passion for mixed martial arts, man?

Rich Franklin:

Like every other boy growing up in the US, I had a dream of being one of two things. I either wanted to be a professional athlete or a superhero and I was fresh out of superpowers so I went with the second-best option.

Rich Franklin:

I really wasn’t gifted with that God-given talent to pursue athletics. I played football my whole life and as a high school player, I didn’t even start for the high school team. I got into martial arts my senior year of high school just as something to do to keep me athletically active because the football season had ended. So here I was, had been an athlete my whole life, and I’m thinking, “Well, now what am I going to do?”

Rich Franklin:

Lo and behold, I get into martial arts. I’m doing this just as a hobby. I train. I go to school to be a high school teacher. I’m majoring in mathematics and the entire time I’m in college I was just one of those very driven, goal-oriented people who, if I was not part of a study group, for example, or on campus doing something productive, then I was heading over to my training sessions. And I just did this because I loved doing it. At the time I didn’t have any aspirations of pursuing that professionally.

Rich Franklin:

Fast forward the clock. I’m teaching high school and this is several years later through all this years of training in college and a couple of years of training as a teacher and I start thinking, “I’ve actually really acquired a skill for this and this is something that I can consider doing full-time.”

Rich Franklin:

And I had discussions with some of the people that were closest to me at the time, one of which was my fight manager, Monte Cox. And Monte said, “Yeah, you know, I think this is something that you could really do well, but there are no champions in this world.” There are no part-time champions is what he said to me.

Rich Franklin:

So my fourth year of teaching I had to make a decision between either, I guess technically retiring, I’m making the quotation marks with my fingers, or just keep continuing with martial arts as a hobby. So I decided to walk away from teaching and give this a shot and the rest is history. It ended up paying off for me.

Brian Cain:

So you were the real life Here Comes the Boom?

Rich Franklin:

Essentially, yeah. Actually Kevin and I spent a lot of time together. He’s been to many of my matches, and we spend a lot of time together, and I spend a lot of time telling him a lot of stories about my career as a young professional. This is pre-big stage days, but in some of the organizations that I competed for. And I’d competed in fairgrounds where the cage broke, and chickens running around the warmup room and stuff like that. This was just normal for those times, and I’m sure he had taken some of those stories and applied them to the script, for sure.

Brian Cain:

It’s amazing man. And then even once your career started taking off, it wasn’t all like you ascended right from the high school classroom to becoming a world champion. There were definitely struggles. There was self-doubt despite all the success that you had. Could you talk a little bit about, even once your career started taking off, some of that self-doubt or the struggles that you went through as you were on the journey?

Rich Franklin:

For sure. Interestingly enough, though, Brian, just a little side note on that, is when you say that it didn’t just all of a sudden take off, it felt like it at the time and things blew up so quickly. I always jokingly tell people that at one point in my life I was this guy who would put my signature on a piece of paper that a kid didn’t want to take home to his parents, and it was called a progress report, and then you fast forward the clock, and just within a couple years, I was a guy who these same kids were waiting in line for four hours to get an autograph. I don’t know how that actually happens to a person. Really. I still to this day, scratch my head actually thinking about that. And it wasn’t an overnight process in the sense of the actual process of getting there because this is something that had started for me in high school, even unbeknownst to me at the time. When the ball started rolling and the momentum happened, it happened quickly, but I had plenty of moments of self-doubt.

Rich Franklin:

I can remember teaching and I had competed in a show in Evansville, Indiana, and I competed against a guy by the name of Gary Myers, who at the time was a UFC veteran. I had a good showing against him and competed really well. Won with a third round knockout kick to the head.

Rich Franklin:

Then there was a show on TV late at night. It was called… Oh, gosh, what was it called? It was run by Joel Gold. The name is… Full Contact. Full Contact? I can’t remember. It was an MMA show and Joel Gold had run the show, and Joel Gold was somebody that was known in the industry at the time and he was the host of the show.

Rich Franklin:

It was one of these shows that at the time, there wasn’t a huge fan base for mixed martial arts at the time and the sport was still growing and it was still banned in a lot of the States. The state athletic commissions didn’t know how to deal with a new sport.

Rich Franklin:

I remember coming home and people that were in the industry knew that this was the place to get information, and I was watching this show and I can remember listening to him breaking down that match between me and Gary, and at one point he said, “This is a kid you’re going to want to keep your eyes on because he’s got a future and he’s going to make waves in mixed martial arts.”

Rich Franklin:

I remember hearing that at the time and thinking, “Wow, there are actually other people watching me. This is not just about me on this pursuit of improving myself as a person, this pursuit of excellence there is now.” I felt this sudden pressure. I remember hearing that and actually mentally considering walking away from the sport altogether because the amount of pressure that I’d suddenly felt was so tremendous, and I just had this lack of confidence in that moment.

Rich Franklin:

I think if I would’ve let that lack of confidence overwhelm me at that point in time and actually push me from what would inevitably be my future, imagine how differently my life would have turned out.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, and at the time, Rich, when you emerged on the scene in MMA, I think there was definitely a stigma of what mixed martial arts was and what a mixed martial arts fighter looked like and you blew that out of the water as an ambassador for the sport.

Brian Cain:

Did you ever feel like that pressure of being the face of an organization or really being a part of the guard of changing a stigma around a sport?

Rich Franklin:

Not really. It’s interesting concept as I sit and think about this because I’m doing work on the other side of the planet for ONE Championship, and a lot of the martial artists that we work with here are so steeped in traditional martial arts culture in their respective countries with whatever art it is that they’re practicing, that that same stigma doesn’t exist on this side of the planet that it did in the US, as far as the stereotype of what people…

Rich Franklin:

Back in the early 2000s when you thought of a mixed martial arts, which at the time was referred to as many different things, no holds barred, full-contact fighting. Vale Tudo was another phrase that was used. There was this vision or this stereotype of what people thought is shaved head, tattoos, bar brawls and everything associated with that. And here I was, this good old-fashioned Midwest American pie, bring home to mom, young boy who was a high school math teacher, educated and fairly well-spoken, that suddenly the sport, the industry, the organization, everybody could lean on like, “Hey look, smart people do this, too.” So it changed things.

Rich Franklin:

A lot of that stemmed back to the traditional training because when I started my martial arts, at the time, mixed martial arts didn’t exist in the US, so we were still doing things like karate, for example. I started in the traditional Japanese, Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate, and my instructor, his son had come home from the Marine Corps and I started learning a little bit of Muay Thai that he had learned overseas when he was doing some of his stints overseas and whatnot, and then quickly started doing that and then it branched out to jujitsu.

Rich Franklin:

The point is is that I started with this traditional background and it’s the same situation that I have doing the work that I’m doing on this side of the planet that that stereotype doesn’t exist, but it really was important at that point in time in history for the growth of the industry.

Brian Cain:

When your career started to take off, like a lot of people, there was a struggle to maintain balance in your life. What was that like and how did you end up creating more of a balanced perspective as you got more fame and more notoriety and won a championship?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, that was probably one of the most difficult things that I had to deal with in my career because, like I said, it seemed like overnight. Once the momentum hit, it really did hit quickly because… I quit teaching full-time in 2002 and then my title fight was in 2005, in June of that year.

Rich Franklin:

Now, I was still teaching part time in an at-risk program for those next couple of years. I was doing that two, maybe three days a week at the most, sometimes two days, sometimes three days a week. This was just an off-campus at-risk program where the kids were doing all their work on computers.

Rich Franklin:

I remember that in ’05 that year, I had competed against Ken Shamrock in March, and then I was offered the title fight in June. It was June 4th and the school year ended something, say, like May 26, so I was still teaching part-time all the way up until May 26, so I was still living this fairly normal life, fairly regular kind of thing.

Rich Franklin:

Then I remember telling the director of that program at the time like, “Hey, I’m not going to be returning after June because me competing against…” I had competed against Evan Tanner in the title fight that June and the winner of that title fight became the coach on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. So I was already telling him in my mind…

Rich Franklin:

And this was the confidence I had at the time. It’s crazy how we talk about going through periods of you’re questioning your ability, being unconfident, whatever, to this period of confidence. I just said to him outright, like, “After June, my life is going to end up changing because I’m going to win this match.”

Rich Franklin:

In my mind, it was just inevitable that I was going to win and then be the coach on season two of The Ultimate Fighter and life just took off at that point. I suddenly went from, literally, two weeks prior to that teaching part-time in a high school at-risk program to suddenly filming a television show. Once the filming of that show was over, I was on this whirlwind PR tour of everything from magazine interviews, to cover shoots, to appearances at things like Maxim parties and stuff like that. Constantly, I was all over the place, just jet-setting, and I went from being a person who had probably been on a plane maybe two or three times in my life to somebody who was flying over 100,000 miles a year, almost what seemed like overnight.

Rich Franklin:

For something to happen that quickly, there is no manual for how to maintain a normal life. Everything from personal relationships to even just your training schedule. It puts such a strain on your training schedule and all this new sensory input, it’s tough to deal with. It’s a difficult thing to manage and, fortunately, for me, this happened at a time where I was, say, in my late twenties, right around the 30-ish mark, which is much different than somebody who is just fresh out of college, like a 21, 22 year old kid being offered a contract with the NFL, for example, where you suddenly have a $5 million signing bonus and life is completely different.

Rich Franklin:

I can’t imagine having to deal with that at the age of 21, but that was the most difficult thing is constantly maintaining that balance between the two. Because if you weren’t being pulled for some sort of PR event then you were managing training camps, having to train out of town.

Rich Franklin:

For one of my matches, for the Anderson Silver Rematch, I conducted my entire camp in the middle of Wyoming in a little town called Pinedale where the population is just a couple thousand people, or at least at the time it was, and I sequestered myself like a Rocky IV training camp in the middle of the mountains in the snow. When you disappear for six, eight weeks at a time and then suddenly you have a match and then you come back, and now you’ve got PR to do on top of it, it really wreaks havoc on your personal life.

Brian Cain:

If you could go back knowing what you know now and get the Rich Franklin of just everything you just described: winning the Evan Tanner fight, becoming a UFC champion, now you’re a coach on the Ultimate Fighter II. If you could rewind and go back and have a conversation with yourself about, “Hey, man, here’s what’s coming. You need to do this differently than you’re going to.” What would you have said to yourself?

Rich Franklin:

I think for me, part of… Let me just say this. There was always this pressure that I only had a small earning window, a small window of opportunity with your career. And it’s true as an athlete. If you have a 10 year career as an athlete, you’re blessed. And that’s about the length of my career at the pinnacle, but I always operated, and a lot of the decisions that I made, were as if my time were running out, and so I think I would go back and the advice I would give my younger self is just one word. Breathe. That’s it. Breathe. Everything is going to work out the way that it should and all you really need to do is focus on your training and winning and being productive and stuff like that. B.

Rich Franklin:

Because what ends up happening, and we talk about the MVP process before, Brian, and you and I have talked about this and we talked about the precursor of this when you and I were working together, but your principles and understanding what your principles are and it’s easy to maybe, I don’t know, bend or just temporarily put those on hold because you suddenly, “Oh, I need to do this match. I know that I’m going to be training through Christmas and I know that I just fought a match a couple of months ago, but I need to do this because my window of opportunity here is short, and so I got to take advantage of these chances, these opportunities while I can.”

Rich Franklin:

So you start making, say, compromise judgments on stuff like that, when, in fact, that time is irreplaceable. So I would go back and just tell myself to breathe and put things in perspective.

Brian Cain:

When you talk about breathing and putting things in perspective and it sounded like Rich, you definitely created a forced sense of urgency-

Rich Franklin:

For sure.

Brian Cain:

… because you knew that as an athlete it doesn’t last forever. You can’t stay on top of the mountain forever. Talk about that forced sense of urgency that you created for yourself to do the work that it took, but then on the flip side, also being able to breathe and stay balanced, because it sounds like they’re opposites, but I think they actually really go together.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, for sure. They’re opposites depending on how you actually position these two things against each other. In my life now, I always remind myself of… There’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, is talking about how you can’t serve two gods. You can’t serve two gods simultaneously because you’ll either love the one and hate the other or vice versa. So, for example, maybe you’re the kind of person that likes to sleep in on a Saturday, but you’re also the kind of person that likes to get fitness results. These two things, they’re really contradictory to each other, so you can’t do both of them at the same time, typically. If you’re going to be the kind of person that sleeps in, as you and I’ve talked about before, you have the most time in the mornings and at night before you go to bed, and you’ve just wasted that time and you’re typically going to let your aspirations get pushed aside by something else that becomes more important.

Rich Franklin:

With my career and this pressure of only having a limited amount of time, what you need to do is you need to keep in perspective of what the most important things are, because what ends up happening, and you and I had talked about this recently in a conversation where we were talking about spinning the plates, and I had told you that at that time, I was spinning plates but as the years or as the days went on in my career, I was adding more and more and more plates to spin. You had made the best comment to me about, “Well, what you need to do is get those plates all spinning in the same direction.” And I don’t think at the time that I was getting the plates spinning all in the same direction.

Rich Franklin:

These two concepts of understanding your principles, but at the same time having this limited timeframe, were really contradictory to each other rather than working in unison the way that they could. I think at the time, everything was so chaotic for me that I didn’t have a good system of sitting down and truly prioritizing things, particularly within my career, of prioritizing the things that were important and the things that were urgent versus the things that were not nearly as important or not nearly as urgent and creating this priority chart and making sure that you’re only taking care of those top priority things professionally so that it doesn’t step over the things in your life personally.

Rich Franklin:

I think what ends up happening, because you feel so much pressure, is that something that’s in your life professionally that may not have this sense of urgency ends up being categorized as something that’s more important than something in your professional life that perhaps does have a sense of urgency and you start to lose track of those kinds of things unless you have a really good process for that.

Rich Franklin:

It took time. I think part of the reason why that took time, like I said, is because the chaos just came upon me so quickly.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, I know, Rich, so much good stuff, man, that you’re throwing out here, and I want to come back to a couple of things that you mentioned where you talked about living with a set of principles. What are the principles that drive the life of Rich Franklin?

Rich Franklin:

Oh man. I don’t know. There’s 767 of them.

Brian Cain:

What’s one that you feel like, if you had to say this is the keystone principle or a keystone principle in your life, what would be an example of one for our listeners?

Rich Franklin:

Something like integrity. If you stand for a certain thing, making sure you stay true to that kind of thing. Things about my faith or my family or something like that. Other principles, things like discipline, staying true to your discipline. I did a lot of things really well in my career, for example, as I’ve always been a disciplined person, so I never let the fame, and the fame in quotation marks, but I never let that stuff sidetrack me from what was truly important. I always maintained my normal training routine. I was at my practices. You can look at my coaching staff. Basically, I maintained the same coaching staff through my entire career.

Rich Franklin:

Even after Matt Hume and I started working together, which was all about the same time that I started working with Joel, you, and some things had changed. I still never got rid of my original coaching staff because I was never displeased or looking to just drop old people or new people.

Rich Franklin:

For example, the agreement that I had with my fight manager was a handshake agreement, and we operated on that my entire career. I would continue operating with him on any kind of business endeavor with a handshake agreement, and I pride myself on being that kind of person.

Rich Franklin:

I don’t think I ever lost my core principles. I never became that kind of guy that was showing up at family parties with the Ferrari and stuff like that, which would be just a really terrible thing to do because I grew up from very humble and poor beginnings, and to suddenly be that guy who’s like, “Hey, look at me everybody…”

Rich Franklin:

There’s the allure of that pulling you that direction, but these kinds of principles, I stayed true to these kinds of things. I believe at the time I had several good people in my life that were keeping me grounded, but at the same time, when all this chaos begins, you get surrounded by a lot of “yes people” in your life, people that are just like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, champ. Yeah, you deserve this.” You have to be careful about the people that you surround yourself with and cipher through what’s good for you and what’s not good for you.

Brian Cain:

Wow, I see that so often, too, with a lot of the professional athletes I work with, guys coming out of college, first round draft picks and signing for millions of dollars. Then next thing you know they’re a human ATM machine, and they don’t know who to go to to get an actual legit, honest answer. They’re just getting a yes from everybody because nobody wants to be the one who’s rocking the boat.

Rich Franklin:

Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things I was blessed with, is a group of friends that didn’t have a hard time… It was easy for them to give me a hard time, but more importantly, when you were messing things up, I was surrounded by people that were like, “Hey, bro, you’re off course.”

Brian Cain:

It’s like a GPS, right? That you start to get off course, boom, and they bring you back before you can get so far off course that you get lost.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, absolutely. I always say this, at the time, Beth, my wife, she was probably my moral compass through a lot of that stuff at that time. Had it not been for a couple of good people like that in my life, some good moral anchors, things like even staying in church and stuff like that, it would be easy to drift in the wrong direction. It’s easy.

Brian Cain:

Rich, one of the principles I think that I would have used to describe you is humility. And I know you were a big Barry Sanders fan growing up and I know how after fights in Vegas…

Brian Cain:

I’ve been to championship fights with fighters and they win and they have the after party and there’s a big celebration, and a lot of fighters now in the news for probably taking that too far and getting themselves into trouble. But you were never a guy who really celebrated and why was that? What was that? Was that something that was intentional for you about not celebrating or was just something you were not into?

Rich Franklin:

No, you brought up Barry Sanders and growing up as a kid watching him play… First of all, I got to meet Barry at an autograph expo in Cleveland one year, and I didn’t know I was going to meet him and my management had set this up, and I suddenly walk behind these curtains and Barry Sanders is standing there and I’m like, “Holy crap.” Probably the first and only time in my life I’ve been star struck really because I grew up watching this guy, and I really respected him as an athlete because every time he scored a touchdown… I think maybe I saw him spike a ball once or twice in his entire career, and everytime he crossed the goal line, he crossed the goal line as if that not only was it his job, but he expected the cross the goal line. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m not going to celebrate because I knew that I was going to get in this end zone, and so it doesn’t call for celebration.”

Rich Franklin:

I treated my career the same way in the sense that when I won… You can see a couple of matches where I got a little excited, but when I won, I almost never celebrated and never really did anything too crazy because I expected to win. I didn’t expect to win because I thought of myself as something great or somebody great as much…

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:26:04]

Rich:

Because I thought of myself as something great, or somebody great, as much as I put in the work, and I knew that I put in the work to do the things that I wanted to do or needed to do in order to win that match. So when the final bell rung and the hand was getting raised, I figured that it would be mine. And because I did the work and so I always, I guess, maintained that humble attitude, because it’s like, well I’m just doing what I trained to do. And so now it’s time for me to get back in the gym, get back to training because the next one’s coming. And I think that’s what great athletes do. I always told myself I’m never going to focus on past performances, and it’s always about what’s coming next, which is why, I guess Brian, when you talk about being humble, I don’t even have an ego, like an ego room or an ego wall in my house. I don’t have any of my belts hanging. I don’t have my hall of fame trophy out. I have very few pictures. If you came into my home, you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell that I was a professional athlete because I don’t have any of that stuff out.

Rich:

And the way I view that is, people will ask you like, “What are you most proud of? What accomplishment are you most proud of?” And I don’t really reflect on my accomplishments and think like, “Wow, I did this and that’s great and I should be proud.” And that’s not to say that I don’t ever think like I’ve done some great things in my life and some cool things, but I had a great career, for example, and so a lot of people will say, “Oh, well that was Rich, and he was…” You know, I’ll always be associated with being a UFC middleweight champ for example, but I have a lot of great stuff going on now. The things that I work on now over here at ONE Championship and the project I’m doing with ONE Warrior Series, and the things I’ve done on this side of the planet, in my mind, I’m doing things that are just as great and just as epic, if not more epic, than what I was doing as a professional athlete.

Rich:

So for me, I’m always looking… You know, you talk about being present and in the moment, it’s like I live my life that way. I don’t think about what I’m going to accomplish 10 years from now, and how great I’m going to be. And I don’t think about what I accomplished yesteryear and how great I was. It’s like this moment that I’m in right now, I’m doing some great stuff, and I have some really good things a brewing. So I’m always focused on what the moment that I’m in, and the process that I have going on, and the embetterment or the standard of excellence that I’m trying to pursue with whatever it is I’m involved in at that point in my life.

Brian Cain:

And have you always had a perspective like that, or is that something that you kind of materialized and grew for you as you grew and got more perspective in life?

Rich:

I think maybe… It’s difficult for me to kind of rewind the clock to a young, young version of me. And when I say young, I mean like a child. I’ll say this. There are certain aspects of me that I think of that as a young kid, for example, even in elementary school or junior high, when it came to a sport, I was the first kid on the field and I was the last kid off the field. I’ve always been that way. I’ve been that way with my schoolwork. I’ve been that way with pretty much anything that I want to pursue in life. And I believe that, I believe… When you and I’ve talked about this, that you’re going to do the greatest thing in life the way that you do the smallest thing in life. And so we talk about process, and you and I’ve talked about like routines and things like that. And when I get up in the morning, taking the time to make my bed, and not just throwing the cover on there, but making sure that it’s put on neatly, and all those kinds of things. I take the time to make my bed in the morning and it’s a process that I go where I’m going to put that effort in making sure that something is done right. And I’ve always been that kind of person.

Rich:

So when you talk about some of these things like have always been this kind of person? I think that that seed has been there my entire life. It’s something that I’ve been born with, but being able to cultivate that throughout the years is something that I’ve been able to do. And perhaps it’s not something that I consciously set forth to do, but just part of the natural process of pursuing things.

Brian Cain:

So you said, let me make sure I got this right, because that was one of the best quotes that I’ve gotten in a long time was, do the greatest thing the same way you do the smallest thing.

Rich:

Exactly.

Brian Cain:

You know, Rich, I think when you take that approach, and you look at confidence and when you’re stepping inside of a cage and I’ve had a chance to get to know five UFC world champions, some of those guys you’ve been inside of the octagon with, and all of them, at times, have asked about confidence. How do I get more confidence? And I think if there was one question that I get when I work with college teams or even pro athletes outside of mixed martial arts, they always want to say, “How do I get more confidence?” Where does Rich Franklin’s confidence come from? And if you were speaking to an athlete who said, “Rich, how do I get more confidence?” What would you say?

Rich:

Well, look, in order to be confident, you’re going to have to have a certain level of success. I mean, success breeds confidence, and then confidence breeds more success, and then more success breeds more confidence. But before you get to that successful point is well how do you start with confidence? Granted as a champion, I was much more confident as an athlete than I was as a newcomer perhaps, but the reality is that the whole confidence starts with your thought process. You get up in the morning, and the thoughts that you allow to enter your head are the things that will determine your confidence. Your thoughts become your actions. This is one of those kind of cliche statements that a lot of people use, and it’s so true. But from there, these thoughts, you start to build into other things. Like you create routines, and these routines, then whether it’s a practice for something or whether you’re making your bed in the morning, these routines develop skills and those skills, as you refine them, become sharper and sharper. And the ability to refine these skills and make you sharper only reinforces the thoughts that you put into your head about how you’re going to accomplish something great, or how you’re going to win this next match, or how you’re going to nail that promotion at your job, or whatever it is that you are struggling with.

Rich:

And so, starts with a thought process and then it develops into your actions. And then those actions, they continually just build upon each other until you get to the point where it’s your game day. Whatever that game day is, the presentation, the promotion, the match, the game, whatever, the recital that you’re going up for. And then you succeed. And once you succeed, it only breeds more confidence, which helps the thought process that in turn only reinforces those routines and so on and so forth. So the circular thing just keeps going in the direction that you want it to go in, but it all starts with the seed of a thought.

Brian Cain:

Every day I talk with coaches and trainers who ask some version of the same question, how can I get my athletes to stay focused and calm under pressure when the game is on the line? How can I help my clients make better decisions even when it’s hard? How can I get my clients and athletes to refocus and get back on track when they mess up their diet, miss a workout, make a bad play or have a bad game, and not let one failure spiral into more struggles?

Brian Cain:

I’m Brian Cain and for the past two decades, I’ve been a mental performance coach to some of the top coaches, athletes, and performers on the planet, and now I’ve created a mental performance mastery coaching certification course to teach you every strategy and technique that I’ve honed over the past two decades to help my clients and athletes close the gap from where they were, to where they want to be and when, including UFC world champions, Olympic medalists, Heisman trophy winners, Cy Young award winners in major league baseball. It’s worked for them and it will work for you. Head over to briancain.com and click on Certification and join our team of mental performance mastery certified coaches, and helping your clients and athletes achieve results that they’ve only dreamed of with our 10 pillars of mental performance mastery system, helping you and your clients close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

Brian Cain:

You know what? I think when you talk about the seed of a thought and you talk about success breeds confidence, I think so many times athletes and just people in general think that success is getting to the top of the mountain, versus just doing the hiking, like making your bed is a success. Having a good breakfast is a success. Doing the workout when you said you were going to do it to the way it was supposed to be done is a success, and I think when you have that day to day process, that’s often that preparation and process that’s going to feed that confidence as well. Could you talk a little bit about the importance of process and routine as it feeds confidence?

Rich:

For sure. You and I we’ve talked about this before too, Brian. I mean there’s so many things that we talked about… Things… When you and I worked together as coach athlete, there so many things that we worked on and then some things that I did really well. And one of the mistakes I made is not enjoying the process early on. I’ll tell a story from later in my career I was in Germany and it was my first match against Vandelay Silva, and if you’ve seen that match, Vandelay and I went through a 15 minute war and I think I went to the hospital quickly or had to see the doctors afterwards. Nothing major. I didn’t require any surgery, and then came back to the hotel that night, and I had a dinner planned with my team, but it took me a while to get out of the arena that night, and by the time I got back to the hotel, the hotel was swarming with fans. They were in the parking lot. They were all over the place. This was our first show in Germany. And so there were thousands and thousands of fans at the hotel.

Rich:

And I remember pulling up in the van and just being so tired and my hands were hurting. And I had spent time in the locker room icing things, and just as I pulled up, I stood there and I was like, “Oh man, I can’t. I just want to sit down and eat with my team.” And I remember my coach Rob, my boxing coach, he looked at me and he said, “Champ,” he said, “Think about this. How many more opportunities are you going to have like this, where you show up in, there are just thousands of people waiting for you to get a photo and an autograph.” He’s like, “These people are your fans.” And I said, “You know what, you’re right.” And this kind of ties into one of the things I learned from you about viewing obstacles as opportunities, and so we get out of the car, and I start signing autographs. Now low and behold, my coach, he disappears within about 30 seconds, and he’s at the table of the dinner that I had ordered for everybody sitting there chowing down and enjoying things on the second floor of the hotel while I’m stuck in the parking lot, signing autographs for the next two and a half hours, but it was a reminder that nothing lasts forever and I made the mistake.

Rich:

And now taking that story and rewinding back towards the front end of my career, I made the mistake of not enjoying the process, because I was so fixed on the goal, on the end game, at the time that when it came to the competition, you know, I was so fixed on winning the title at one point in my career. I mean there was a point in my career where I never even thought the title was… There was a point in my quote unquote career where I didn’t even really consider pursuing MMA full time, but then when you suddenly, these thoughts, and reinforce the actions and the actions, you know, the routines and all that and now suddenly you get on a path of what you believe is inevitability and that title is going to be mine.

Rich:

And I was so fixed on the title, on the end game that I forgot to actually enjoy the process. And the night that I won my title, my belt, I remember we fought at Trump Plaza in Atlantic city and I walked back to my hotel room and I was standing there with just a small group of my inner circle and I sat the belt down on the hotel bed, and I looked at it and you’re going from an arena of 12, 13,000 screaming fans to this silent hotel room within the hour. Even though I had my close friends with me, it’s a kind of a lonely feeling, so to speak. I can understand how like rock stars for example, get so intertwined into things like drugs and stuff like that or depression. And I just remember standing there in my hotel room and I said to everybody there, I said, “I don’t feel like a champion.”

Rich:

I don’t know what I expected. In my mind, I pictured those parades that you see when the soldiers were returning from World War II overseas and the whole city of New York was just filled with people. I think I expected my life to be like that every day for the rest of my life perhaps, but when I got there, it was just, well, now you’ve won the title, and now it’s time to wake up tomorrow, and reinforce those thoughts, that are going to reinforce those routines, that are going to once again get you to winning the next match.

Rich:

And so it was about that time that I was really harshly reminded that the enjoyment really is in the process. And so, recently I was climbing Mount Fuji, and as I was walking up the mountain, and don’t get me wrong, I had moments of asking myself, why the heck I’m doing this thing, particularly because I hadn’t trained for that mountain and I didn’t have some of the proper gear, like things like food and water that I needed because it was only a six hour hike. And I thought, well, I can do anything for six hours. But as I was walking up that mountain, there was times where I asked myself why I was doing it, but I had to remember that it was an epic process because the reality is that once I got to the top of the mountain, I was going to stand there and enjoy that view for, I don’t know, two minutes, 10 minutes, whatever, but eventually I had to come back down that mountain, and that’s just a short lived extrinsic stimulus that you get from that. And if you’re not intrinsically motivated by something by the enjoyment of the process, for example, then you’re going to find that all those experiences in life when you win a world title and you go back to your hotel room is going to feel very empty.

Brian Cain:

You talk about that, the hike up Mount Fiji and there was another hike recently that you were on in the Philippines where maybe, unlike when you were in the hotel at the Trump Plaza, after you won that UFC title, and you put it down on the bed and you said, “I don’t feel like a champion.” You’re on this hike in the Philippines, and you run into a fan that told you something that was meaningful to you. Take us back to that moment and that conversation.

Rich:

Yeah, so I was recently had traveled down to Cebu in the Philippines, and we went outside of the downtown area several hours and there’s this area called Kawasan Falls. It’s a beautiful place. If you want to do a nice, not an extreme hike, just a nice little hike where there’s some waterfalls, and by waterfalls I mean anything from say 10 feet to something that’s more like 40 or 50 feet. This is a great little hike and you can jump off of these waterfalls or there ways to walk around them as well, but it’s just beautiful. It’s about a two to three hour hike, nothing too strenuous, and it’s really, really majestic back there. But the hike essentially culminates to this final waterfall that’s about, I guess about 50, 55 foot, and we’re jumping off all these waterfalls, and we get to the final waterfall and we jump. We sat, we had lunch when we were finished, we’re leaving the trail, and I bumped into this guy who happens to be from Cincinnati also. And he says to me, “Hey!” He says, “Rich Franklin?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah.” He says, “Man, I’m a huge fan.”

Rich:

Essentially when you’re in the middle of nowhere, as compared to Cincinnati, that is, and somebody recognizes you and it’s been almost a decade since you’ve been on television live, in the manner of competition, you know that you’re talking to somebody that’s a true fan. He says, “Hey man, I’m a huge fan,” and you really appreciate it, and started talking about some of my, “I really appreciate your match against and so and so, and this and that.” And he said, “But hey, I said I really appreciate you representing Cincinnati really well.” He said, “And you were always a good role model for my children, somebody that I always wanted my kids to tune into and listen to and watch.” And you know, I’m often asked like, what accomplishment are you the proudest of in your career? And like I said before, I don’t get caught up on something that actually happened because I’m always working on what is now, but when somebody says something like that to me, and I realize that that is the legacy that I left behind for a lot of people, that to me is far more important than any belt that could have ever been wrapped around my waist.

Speaker 2:

Again, on the [inaudible 00:00:42:18]. Out.

Speaker 3:

And down goes Curry.

Speaker 2:

Out cold. Wow.

Speaker 3:

A first round knockout. [inaudible 00:42:24] Rich Franklin [crosstalk 00:42:26] retains his belt.

Speaker 2:

Big one punch knockout.

Brian Cain:

Yeah Rich, when you talk about legacy, one of the things that I wanted to accomplish kind of with this new format of the podcast, was giving people an opportunity to ask questions of our guests. So some of the questions that came in, first one comes from Zane. And Zane said, “Rich, would you mind describing how you transitioned from top of the world fighter in the UFC to a high level executive at ONE Championship? And how has the transition been spending most of your life now in different geographic areas?

Rich:

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to take all the credit for this because Brian, I believe this whole heartedly. I believe that God has put me on a path in this world, and has just kind of watched over me my entire life, because I don’t have any way of actually explaining how a third string high school football athlete who doesn’t have a background in any other sport ends up becoming a world champion in a combative sport.

Rich:

And I always said to myself, when I was done competing, I want to travel around the world a little bit and see some of the world. Now I was fortunate and blessed enough to compete in seven different countries internationally. I think it’s seven, but several countries, but you don’t really get to see the world because you’re there during competition week. You’re so focused on the competition, you don’t get to enjoy much of the culture, the city that you’re in, or any of that kind of stuff. So when I was done competing, I said, “I want to travel a little bit and see some things.”

Rich:

And lo and behold now, I’m doing this job where my job essentially is to travel and recruit talent. And when I recruit talent, I take these guys and we go do some fun stuff. Sometimes I might be jumping off a waterfall, sometimes I might be eating some crazy food like live squid, and that I did when I was in Seoul, and so on. There’s just, it’s crazy some of the things that I do, and I’m scratching my head sometimes asking myself like, how did I even end up in this position? And so, I believe that God had a hand in that for me, but also, I still have to do my part. I’m not sitting here saying that God said, “You know what? You’re going to win a world title. I got this. Don’t you worry about a thing?” I still had to put in the work and do my half of things. And that’s what I did to kind of position myself here.

Rich:

The transition initially, it was a little, it’s an adjustment, I’ll say from the perspective of there was a point in my life where working out was my job. Now I actually have a job where working out is technically a hobby. I have to fit it into my day. That’s probably the toughest adjustment I’ve had to make because I used to get up in the morning to do my road work because I was getting paid to do it. Now I got to get up in the morning and do my road work and I have to be motivated to do it on top of doing the things that I get paid to do, which is a weird feeling because it’s like, well wait, this used to be my job.

Rich:

So that’s been a bit of a transition, understanding that, and I think initially I probably had a bit of a personal pushback on that. Like, no, no, no, no, no, no. I still maintained training as if I was still competing professionally. I was still training several hours a day or at least maintaining as much of it as I could until I finally took ownership of the role that I’m in. And I viewed this, like I talked about earlier, as I have this skill, and I want to refine this skill. And so with the program that I have now, this ONE Warrior Series program, I said before, I’ve pretty much been given full creative control on this thing. And so if I put out a good episode or if there’s something about an episode that I don’t like, a lot of that reflects on me personally. And it’s not just me, but I mean, I have an amazing team. I don’t want to take the credit for all of this. I’m not sitting at the edit bays myself, and I’m not the one behind the cameras shooting the footage and whatnot, but we sit down as a team and collaborate at the end, and we’re constantly looking at how we can make the process better, and how we can produce better stuff.

Rich:

And it’s the same kind of mentality that I had as an athlete and I think that what has been able to make me successful in the corporate world, and even though people still see me in front of the camera, if you’re on this side of the planet, my show airs in about 15 different countries over here, and people see me in front of the camera and will still see me, I guess, kind of as the quote unquote talent. But from an executive standpoint and a business standpoint is when you have that mentality of I have a skill, or an art, and I’m going to study this, I’m going to analyze it, break it down, and I’m going to do it better than my competition. I’m going to do whatever it takes to do it better than my competition. And by whatever it takes, I mean within the rules of integrity. Then you apply that to, like I said, you do the smallest thing in life just as well as you do the greatest thing.

Rich:

A bicycle has a chain that makes the wheels go round, but that chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and so I’ve always taken this philosophy in life, so I’m going to treat my executive career the same way I treated my athletic career, and I don’t view this as like, “Well, you know, man, I would really still like to be competing, but now I’m stuck doing this.” It’s like, no, this is the next great adventure that I’m on, and I’m going to leave a legacy on this career the same way that I left a legacy in my first career.

Brian Cain:

Yeah Rich, our next question comes in from Sarah, and Sarah [inaudible 00:47:47] she said, “Rich, you were an athlete I looked to who always had a quote unquote relentless work ethic. Did you always feel like working out?” And I think you can take that and tie it into right now, like you just said it, you used to get up in the morning and do the road work because you were getting paid for it, and because you knew there was another guy who was doing the same work that you were getting in a cage with. Now that there is no more, you getting into a cage, you’re getting up to do it because you like to do it. Do you always feel like doing it when you get up?

Rich:

Always next question.

Brian Cain:

Seriously?

Rich:

No. Are you kidding me?

Brian Cain:

I was going to say man, well, dude, you are a super human. No one always feels like working out. How do you move through it though when you don’t feel like it?

Rich:

No, I’ll tell you that, and this is a difficult thing for me. All joking aside about the 5:00 AM club, Brian. Look for somebody who’s had a 15 year career in mixed martial arts, and on top of it, I’m an adrenaline junkie. I do dumb things, really dumb things all the time. I’m the only person in my forties that I know that skis down a mountain acting like I’m 13 trying to do new tricks and stuff like that, and constantly wiping out and hitting the ground. And when you’re 13 if you break an arm, you can literally get up, and wiggle the arm out and the break goes away. It doesn’t happen in your forties anymore.

Rich:

And so these little bumps and bruises that I’ve accumulated during my entire life, and I’ve had, I don’t know, several surgeries, they start to add up. And when I wake up in the morning, my back is a little tight, and my feet, they’re not quite woken up yet. And I got to spend time stretching out. And so when I was in my twenties and my early thirties I could just jump up and hit the road, just hit the pavement and go. And now if I want to do, for example, empty stomach cardio in the morning before I actually hit the road, I got a lot of kind of like stretching out, loosening up, and the next thing you know it, that 30 minute routine turns into an hour. By the time I’ve loosened up and done everything I need to do to actually hit the road.

Rich:

So, it’s quite difficult when you wake up and you’re like, “Oh man, I’m just a little sore and this and that.” And on top of that, most of the workout that I do now, whether I’m in the gym or if I’m doing roadwork, any kind of conditioning, or bag work, or things like that, other than when I’m grappling with people and whatnot, it’s different, but a lot of the stuff that I do is on my own. And so to stay self-motivated is really quite difficult. But I always tell myself this, this is the one thing, and I had mentioned this to you the other day, every time I had to get up in the morning and run when it was cold outside and there was snow on the ground and I would get up with that attitude like, “Oh gosh, man, I hate doing this. I don’t like running in the cold.” And I don’t, I don’t like running in the cold, but I’ll tell you what I hate more than running in the cold and that’s failure.

Rich:

And so if I have to choose between failure or running in the cold, running in the cold is going to win every single day. And that’s just a metaphor that I use for my life whenever I think I don’t feel like doing something. It’s like, well, you know what? Failure’s an option, quitting’s an option. Why don’t you just quit instead? That’s a lot easier. And I’m like, “Yeah, but I don’t like quitting.” I don’t like quitting more than I don’t like the 5:00 AM club as much as I don’t like the 5:00 AM club. So get pushed into the necessity for having to get up at 5:00 AM, I would do it if I had to because well the opposition is just not not an option. Quitting is not an option.

Rich:

So I kind of mix that with the what you talk about with the attitude of gratitude, in that if I have to get up and run in the morning when it’s cold outside, I tell myself the only thing worse than doing this is not having the ability to run. If I had messed up my joints to the point where I could no longer run anymore, then it would be sad. I would it and think like, “Man, I would love to go for a jog.” Imagine me sitting here thinking I would love to just go for a 5K. I would love to run a marathon. To be so deprived of running that you would love to run a marathon. I think a lot of people can actually relate to that now. There are probably a lot of people in this world who, for example, like to sit around on their couch and watch Netflix. Now we’re in the middle of this pandemic, and everybody’s quarantined, and everybody is getting to the point where they’re just about Netflixed out, and people are sitting there thinking like, “God, I would just love to go outside.”

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:52:04]

Rich Franklin:

And people are sitting there thinking like, “God, I would just love to go outside. I don’t care that it’s a hundred degrees outside, I’m going to sweat my butt off. I’d rather be outside today.” And so it’s all about your perspective, and how you look at things. Do I lose motivation at times? Absolutely. But the opposite, quitting is just not an option, so it always wins.

Brian:

Now, you talked about quitting is not an option, and failure is not an option. But when you’re 13 years old skiing down a hill and you break an arm, it’s no big deal. You get back up and try the next trick. Well, Rich, talking about broken arms leads us to our next question that comes in from Chap. Chap wanted to know at UFC 115, June, 2010 you’re fighting on another Hall of Famer in Chuck Liddell, and you break your arm in that first round with a leg kick and come back, knock out a roll.

Rich Franklin:

I didn’t break my arm. Chuck broke my arm. Just for the record.

Brian:

So Chuck breaks your arm. Thank you. So it’s just right. It’s like getting hit with a baseball bat in the forearm. Take us back through, you get a broken arm and you come back to knock out one of the greatest of all time.

Rich Franklin:

Well, it’s interesting that match, when he kicked my arm, I thought man, this is so stupid. I just remember standing there and just, I didn’t block that kick properly. I didn’t defend against it. And there’s a proper way to do that, and I didn’t shock absorb it and move with the kick. I just stuck my arm out there and obviously, the tibia is a much stronger, thicker bone than the ulna and the, it came in and just crashed through and broke that ulna. And I remember as soon as it happened, you can rewatch the match and I’m shaking.

Rich Franklin:

You’ll see me shake my fist, like something wasn’t right. And, and then, I can feel the pain immediately but it’s not a terrible pain because you have a lot of adrenaline going on, but you can feel pain like, “Mmm, that doesn’t feel right.” And so, I’m shaking out my hand, shaking out my hand, and then I throw a punch. And when I throw a punch at him with that hand, I can feel the bones in the hand go, like click, click, Or not the hand, but the, the arm, the bottom of the forearm there. And when I felt that click click, it was a familiar feeling before, because I had broken my hand several years prior to that on David Loiseau’s head, I broke my second metacarpal in my left hand.

Rich Franklin:

And every time I threw a punch I could feel that bone going, click, click, click, click. So I knew right away that the arm was broken and my mindset, it’s interesting how your mind will suddenly change. And you know, Brian, I talked to you about this the other day about how a mindset can go from a growth mindset to a fixed mindset. And my mindset in this match immediately just like that went from growth to fixed, because I suddenly thought instead of how do I win this match or me winning this match or what I need to do, I was thinking, how do I survive this round so that I can go to my corner, and let my corner know that my arm is broken so that they can tell me how to win the match, as if they were going to have this magic recipe for, “Okay, you have a broken arm. Here’s the broken arm game plan. We didn’t share it with you during camp, but this is what we’re going to do now.”

Rich Franklin:

And so I went to this fixed mindset. There was a point in time actually where, where Chuck took me down in the match and I was against the cage and there’s this move that I do when I’m on the bottom of the guard, and I stand up and I stand up really effectively. It’s a bread and butter move that I do. And I typically only do it to one side, and I posted out with my arm, my broken arm. And when I posted out to try to stand up, my arm just folded on me. I had to go to the other side to do this because I couldn’t post on my left arm. And when I posted on my right arm, actually getting up, I kind of, I left myself exposed.

Rich Franklin:

And fortunately I didn’t end up in a choke or getting kneed in the face or anything like that. It really was sloppy technique when I look at it and assess it. But I got back to my feet. And you quickly realize like, look, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if this arm is broken or not. You’re in a dog fight here. And this is just a great metaphor for life. When something happens unexpectedly to you, and you have to deal with a whole different set of problems that you thought you were going to have to deal with, the world keeps spinning and things keep coming at you. And you better learn how to, pun intended here, roll with the punches and keep moving forward because if not, if you don’t have that grit, you’re going to fold.

Rich Franklin:

And that’s what happened in this match. And even though my arm is broken, I keep throwing punches with it. And eventually the training that we did paid off actually because I was working with my boxing coach on that match, and we had worked a specific combination where Chuck tends to over pursue once he thinks he has, or he has somebody hurt. And he had landed a combination, or landed a punch and thought that he rocked me and I was stepping backwards to evade some punches. But I was fine. And then he started to over pursue and then I landed that overhand right. And it went all back to the routines that we did where we worked this dumping over hand right over and over.

Rich Franklin:

We worked with so many times that I was actually training and I remember my coach holding pads one day, and he throws the pad up for me to hit this overhand right again. And I looked at him like, “Rob, man, I’m sick of throwing this punch.” And he literally smacked me in the face with the pad and said, “Throw the punch.” And that was the punch that ended up winning the match for me. So it all goes back to that, and just not letting yourself get sidetracked. And even in those moments where your confidence is broken, you need to go back to your initial thoughts. And this comes back to the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts that we’ve done, that we’ve been into before, and just continuing to move forward.

Brian:

You had this grave look on your face. What was going through your mind at the time?

Rich Franklin:

I’ve, I was just happy to fight was over because I knew my arm was broken in the fight, and I definitely wasn’t going to quit. I’ve broken bones before and continued fighting. But there was part of me that was wondering how it was going to be able to, what kind of strategy I was going to use to win the fight with a broken left arm in the second and third round.

Brian:

Yeah. I want to make sure we definitely get to talking about awareness, the signal lights. But before we go to there, you talked about Rob, your boxing coach, and how you were hoping to get back to the corner so they could give you the broken arm game plan. But how he also hit you in the face with the pad to say, “Hey man, we’re working on this overhead right.” And he’s also talked you into making sure you go and sign all those autographs in Germany while you was eating your filet minion on the second floor.

Brian:

But when you look at your coaches that you’ve had in MMA and you’ve worked with some great ones, what’s the mental attitude? Ronald asked a question. What’s the mental attitude that you value the most in your MMA coaches?

Rich Franklin:

Oh man. I don’t know because look, this is not a sport where you’re playing a football and you have a head coach. When I was in Cincinnati, I had Mike, my conditioning coach, Jorge Gurgel my jujitsu coach, Rob Bradford is my boxing coach, Neil Rowe, my kickboxing coach. Later on I started working with Ryan Rood as a wrestling coach, and then of course you and I worked together in mental performance. And then when I was up in Seattle, I had Joel Jameson work in my strength conditioning up there, and Matt Hume. And all these people, they all bring different aspects to the game.

Rich Franklin:

For example, I look at the two strength and conditioning coaches I work with. Joel is very scientific with the way that he approaches things, and at the time he and I were working together and he was using his eight weeks out program. And we were using recovery systems, and things were computerized and data was tracked and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

Whereas with Mike, Mike is one of those just hardcore grit and training kind of guys. And even though he’s not using a computer, he’s been in the game so long when it comes to conditioning and lifting and things like that, that he probably knows how to analyze things. And he knew me as an athlete so well that he didn’t need data. He knew right away if I’d been over training, if he needed to back off, if we needed to take a day off or whatever. And I think that the thing that I probably value the most about the mental aspect of most collectively as my coaches, is that my coaches were all thinkers like I was. Particularly in their respective arts, but they were all always trying to reassess and you know, build their skillset so to speak, and make themselves better.

Rich Franklin:

Some of my coaches like Neil, my kickboxing coach was also a good training partner of mine. And he was always looking not only how do I build my skillset as a training partner, but how do I build my skillset as a coach. And those two things sometimes would intertwine so that it would benefit me. And so this thinking strategy that I had as a very cerebral athlete tended to be the same way that all my coaches were about their strategies. And this is independently of each other. They didn’t have this sit down powwow with each other and say, “Okay, here’s the thinking strategy we need to implement.” But when I was with my boxing coach, the strategy was a very thinking strategy. When I, with Matt in Seattle, the strategy was a very thinking man strategy.

Rich Franklin:

We would break things down, and look at where we needed to build things. And it was that way across the board. And I think that that’s what I really appreciate and value the most about all my coaches.

Brian:

You know, if we can cut the transmission from this concept and talking about the career and try to laser in for, I think something that our audience is really wanting to know from Rich Franklin’s perspective is talking about the mental game. Can you kind of take us all the way back to how did we meet, and what’s kind of your first remembrance of an exposure to mental performance in some of our training and how this whole thing got started of you working with a mental performance coach?

Rich Franklin:

Let me just say it’s weird how the brain works because, Brian, when I was training in karate, I was the top dog at the dojo and like a big fish in a small pond, so to speak.

Rich Franklin:

And this really breeds this sense of confidence. And when I look at myself at that point in time, the present day me looking back at the young 19 year old me, I’m thinking, “Man, what a false sense of confidence you had.” Because really, I did not have the combative skills that I needed at the time. We were a very hard nosed karate school, and in terms of those kinds of schools I would put our people up against any other school in the world.

Rich Franklin:

But as it applies to just overall combat, I look back and I think like, “Oh Lord, I was so confident.” I just did not even question my ability. And then time goes on. This confidence continues, continues, continues. And I think where I probably had the first little kink in the armor of my confidence was my second or third amateur bout where I was competing against this guy, and I and kicked this guy in the jaw and broke his jaw in several different places.

Rich Franklin:

And when I looked at him I thought, “wow, I could be on the receiving end of that, had I made a mistake in this match. Like this is really what could happen.” And I started understanding the, I don’t want to say, it’s not the severity of the injuries, but what’s really at stake. And I’m not talking about health, I’m just talking about winning and losing, and what can possibly happen, success and failure. But that was on the winning end of something like that. And that’s where I really started thinking about things. Still still uber confident, but as you start realizing like, “Oh, eyeballs are on me.” Like the story that I told earlier with the name of the show was Full Contact Fighter because that was the clothing label that Joe Gold owned at the time.

Rich Franklin:

When I start thinking about that show and what I heard, and suddenly the pressure that I felt because all these eyeballs were on me. And the interesting thing about confidence is that when people are confident, man, you should hear me sing in the shower. I am amazing. I probably deserve a Grammy. I’m not kidding man. It’s, it’s something to hear. But then suddenly if I’m singing karaoke for example, in front of a large crowd, you’re going to get a much different performance because it’s just for some reason between the shower and the karaoke stage, that Grammy ability goes somewhere. And this confidence, you suddenly lack this confidence because eyeballs are on you, and people are going to judge you and whatnot. And this is your perception. And you learn at the end of the day that really the worst critic in the world, particularly when you’re competing, I always say that my worst critic is myself. It’s the man in the mirror at the end of the day.

Rich Franklin:

Because at the end of the day, if I’m not happy with my performance, or I didn’t do well or whatever, I’m really hard on myself. Way harder than the fans were, ever. And so I don’t understand how this perception of judgment or fear of judgment or whatever these outside factors suddenly can affect your confidence. But it starts to mess with you. And there’s all this outside messaging coming in, whatever it is, what journalists are writing, or what fans are saying on social media or message boards or any of that kind of stuff. And you’re getting all this input. And so you have to be able to shut all those kinds of things off.

Rich Franklin:

And you and I started working together, it was between my first loss to Anderson and my second loss to Anderson. And I really had my confidence shaken after the Anderson match, the first one obviously. Because it was just, the whole approach to that match and everything leading into it is a whole different conversation. But after losing a match like that, it’s going to mess with your confidence. I can remember that my next match was Jason McDonald and it was in Columbus, Ohio. So I was competing in my home state at the time. And I had a good performance, but I can just remember being in the cage, and I can remember when I was slipping punches, I was moving extra, and just had this fidgety movement, and I wasn’t being efficient the way that I normally would.

Rich Franklin:

And it probably is undetectable to most people watching the match. But I knew it. I knew the feeling that I felt mentally, and I knew the performance that I had physically. And this was the man in the mirror at the end of the night saying like, “Man, Rich, what’s going on? Why are you questioning yourself?” And after you come off of a match like Anderson, and I had my nose smashed, you’re a bit reluctant to start putting your face in front of somebody punches.

Rich Franklin:

And so I won that match, and then you and I started working together and I realized that I had some stuff, I guess I didn’t know it at the time, I didn’t know this phrase, but I had some massive yellow, and probably a lot of red light thoughts at the time. And so when I talked to you, when we started working together, the thing that we talked about, that was one of the first concepts we talked about was the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts.

Rich Franklin:

And it was interesting. And something we talked about the other day is how at the time I just wanted you to make that stuff go away. Essentially, I was just like, “Brian, make me confident again, and get rid of all this doubt, the self doubt that I have. I got to get rid of this. So just tell me what I need to do. I’ll read a book, I’ll say my mantra, I’ll, whatever, I can hum, whatever I need to do, just tell me, and I’ll burn some incense. I don’t know.”

Rich Franklin:

And it doesn’t work that way unfortunately. And so what you had taught me at the time was that “Hey, here are the signals that you got going on.” And prior to a match like that, I wasn’t always green, but I was let’s say 90, 95% green with some yellows and the occasional red.

Rich Franklin:

And then after that I’m starting to notice these red light thoughts. So you and I working together, suddenly it’s like instead of making these things go away, we learned how to identify them, and we identify when we’re in the yellow zone rather than in the red zone. Before we get to the red zone, not saying that it still never happened, but you identify it much earlier, and you turn your thought process around.

Rich Franklin:

Instead of letting yourself drift down this path of self doubt, to the point where you’re so deep in a hole that you can’t hardly dig yourself back out of it, is you recognize yourself as you’re starting to step in the hole and say, “Let me step around this hole. Let me change direction here. Let me get myself back on track.” Because once again, going back to what I said before, is those thoughts, those thoughts will, suddenly they creep into your routines, and your actions and they’ll start reinforcing all your technique, and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

Now you’re starting to execute things with self doubt. And so, if you don’t recognize that immediately it can really infect your entire game. And so that’s one of the things that we had. And I think that for us, you and I particularly working together on the Travis Looter match. When people ask me what one of my favorite matches is in my career, I always say the Travis Looter match because it was my worst winning performance. There was a moment in time in that match where I mentally broke and I talked about that particular match in depth in my Ted Talk. But we prepped for this thing and we nailed the prep down. Travis did exactly what we thought he was going to do, but I just failed an execution the whole way through.

Rich Franklin:

I failed in every step of execution to the point where I got mounted. And even when we were in camp, my coaches said if he mounts you, Matt told me, “If he mounts you, the fight’s over. Don’t get mounted.” We didn’t even work mount escapes for that because we did everything we needed to do to prevent getting mounted. Getting mounted wasn’t even an option. So when I ended up on the bottom side of the mount in that match, I had mentally broke for a moment.

Rich Franklin:

And then I told myself like, “Well wait a minute, what are you doing? And much as the same when I was in the Chuck Liddell match, I had to get myself back on track. And so I turned myself back around in that match. And then I was able to escape the arm bar from the bottom side and I come back and won. But it was my worst winning performance. But I think had you and I not done the work together that we had done, when I hit those red light thoughts when I was laying on my back in the middle of that cage, I probably would not have been able to escape the red light thoughts, and I wouldn’t have won that match.

Brian:

Yeah. I think something else, that kind of concept that people can grab what you’re saying here is really learning how to talk to yourself, and not listen. I think when you listen, and we’re all going to have that little voice of self doubt, we’re all going to have that little voice of “Do I really want to go through this, do I want to push anymore?” But you learn how to talk yourself through that. Is that something that you feel like you’ve gotten better at with experience and age?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I do. The thing, Brian, as you asked me this question, I started thinking about how these concepts that you and I have worked on apply to my personal life. Because I think initially I was really good at applying these things to my professional life. One in particular was, and I did this well before you and I worked together, but I got even better at it when we worked together, and the Travis Looter example is a perfect example of that, is viewing obstacles as opportunities.

Rich Franklin:

In this world there are certain people that just… I always say this, I think I was just born this way, that if my mom, when I was a two year old kid, said to me, “No cookies.” And she took the cookie jar and put it on top of the refrigerator, I would have been the kind of kid that walked into the kitchen and saw that cookie jar on the top of the refrigerator and been like, “Huh, how do I get cookies out of that thing?” And I would have figured out a way to climb myself all the way up on top of that refrigerator to get those cookies.

Rich Franklin:

There are other people in this world who as a kid they would look and say, “Oh, the cookie jar is on top of the fridge. So I guess I can’t have any cookies now.” And they view obstacles as obstacles. And I think that we’re maybe, I don’t know, born that way with a certain preset amount of that. And you can train this and hone in on it. But I’ve always been the kind of person that’s viewed obstacles as opportunities. Particularly when it comes to competition. And I think that it’s not something that I necessarily applied to my personal life as well as I did my competitive life, because in my competitive life I have this grit.

Rich Franklin:

I will walk through brick walls in order to accomplish my goal or win, or succeed or whatever I need to do. But in your personal life with little things, you’ll get frustrated by these obstacles rather than saying, “Okay, this is an opportunity for me to do whatever.” You know, when I’m mounted against one of the best grapplers in the world, this is an opportunity for me to showcase or work a different kind of armbar escape. And I didn’t have that kind of mentality in my personal life. And so there was this ability for me to, to think about this, and probably something I’m still working on to be real honest, as a human being. But applying this philosophy of obstacles or opportunities, and you need to view it that way in your personal life as well, so that you can always maintain, for example, an attitude of gratitude.

Rich Franklin:

Did I actually fully answer the question that you asked?

Brian:

Yeah, I think so. I think to kind of come back to it, it would be a question that Mark submitted where he said, “Rich, when was the first time that you realized that the mental performance training that you’re doing with Brian was actually working? And then was there one technique, like you’ve talked about signal lights, you’ve talked about self-talk, was there one sort of exercise that you would do as part of a training program?” And I think what you’ll probably talk about is mental imagery and visualization, or listening to the audio is when you’re doing road work. But if you can kind of talk about one, when was there a point where you said, “Wow, this mental performance training is actually working.” And then two, what were some of those things that you did in the training process?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I’ll go back to this Brian. I think that that moment on my back in the Looter match that I was talking about before is the moment where I really realized it was working. Now I’ll say this, the caveat is that I probably realized the mental performance training was working well before that, during my actual process of getting ready for the match. But that memory is so burnt into my head that that’s where I really realized like, “Oh, this is working.” And not only is it working during the process, but it’s actually working in a real life application, during the match itself. That’s where that really sticks in my head.

Rich Franklin:

And you’re right. If I had to choose one aspect of the mental performance training that you and I did, other than identifying the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts, being aware of that and learning how to turn that around, and a lot of that comes with understanding your circle of control.

Rich Franklin:

That was a big one for me because, going back to the original reason why I came to you is I just wanted to make those red light thoughts go away completely. And a lot of that was understanding what is actually in your circle of control. But as far as I guess skills, or whatever or drills, then I would have to say it would be the imagery and visualization. And that was something that I carried through, and I still use to this day. Anytime I’m doing something particularly that I think I may be nervous about doing, or where I feel like failure is, I don’t know, a possible outcome or something like that, is I like to visualize things.

Rich Franklin:

Because when I was getting ready for a match, we took it so far as to, when I was preparing for the competition, on Saturdays those were our full go sparring days. I would come into the gym, I would walk into the locker room, I would get stretched out by my coaches, prep, all that stuff. Just everything would be set up exactly like the day of the match, and we would walk out, we would play my music, and we would do everything as if it was a match. And there were sessions like that where we were, I guess that’s kind of a form of visualization because you’re mimicking the day of.

Rich Franklin:

But we also did the visualization at the end of the training sessions where I would lay there and go through the match, everything from arriving in the locker room, all the way through to walking out, to getting introduced, to the hand raised and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

And then of course you were in my locker room, and you had recorded all those locker room sounds and the walkout and me getting introduced and getting into the cage. And so I would go through these imagery and visualization exercises where I would picture myself not just succeeding in the match, but sometimes failing in the match as well. And having to overcome, and this was something that I probably learned from the Looter fight is like, “Hey, even if you visualize everything in a scenario, not everything you visualize is going to play out exactly the way you visualize it.” You’re still going to have little failures here and there and you can’t let those little failures suddenly put you in a red light thought system where you’re afraid to pull the trigger now. I would even visualize myself failing at techniques, and getting taken down when I was defending it, but being able to get back to my feet, and being able to fix whatever went wrong if something went wrong.

Rich Franklin:

So that when I was actually in the match, I wasn’t just prepared to execute a winning strategy, but I was prepared to be able to recourse myself and execute other technique if things didn’t go exactly the way I had, I guess technically quote/unquote visualized it unfolding. That was probably the most useful technique that you and I had because there were times where you and I would do phone calls, and I was sitting in my office and I would shut down the lights and I can remember, distinctly remember sitting in my office chair at my desk there talking to you on the phone.

Rich Franklin:

I can remember doing these things the week of training where I would lay down on the mats, and you would run me through this stuff with quiet sounds, and all that kind of stuff. I can remember doing it with my coaches, and you helping my coaches so that they knew how to talk to me after the matches. And I can remember being in the school, laying on the mats when I was prepping and kicking the lights out in the school so that we could lay there and do the visualization process.

Speaker 4:

Attention athletes, coaches-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:18:04]

Rich Franklin:

… lay there and do the visualization process.

Brian:

Attention athletes, coaches and parents of athletes. Mental performance is the key to unlocking unshakable confidence, forging unbreakable mental toughness and gaining an almost unfair edge over the competition. So why are so many athletes leaving their mental performance training up to chance? And why are so many coaches flat out ignoring it? Look, if you’re an athlete and you know you can perform at a higher level than you currently are, but you’re not sure what’s missing, or if you’re a coach or parent who’s tired of seeing your athletes fall short of their potential because they lack confidence or mental toughness and you’re looking for a step-by-step program that they can use to master the mental game, you’re in exactly the right place.

Brian:

I’m Brian Cain, world renowned mental performance coach, and I’ve had the privilege to work with Olympic athletes, MMA world champions, major league baseball Cy Young Award Winners, and Heisman trophy winners on closing the gap from where they were to where they wanted to be in mental performance. And now, with my 30 days to mental performance mastery for athletes program, you can get the same training that helped these world champions close the gap from where they were to where they wanted to be and needed to be to win. Head over to briancain.com and click on athletes to get started today.

Brian:

Being at a time, this is back in the two thousands when you were doing this, and was this something that when you first got introduced to it you were like, man, this is like Disneyland or what is this mental performance? Because man, we didn’t start working together until probably 2006, 2007?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah.

Brian:

Or was it something where at that time you were still even open to it? Because I think now in 2020, people are open to mental performance training, but I think they’re open to it because of guys like you talking about the impact that it had on your career while you were doing it.

Rich Franklin:

For sure. At the time, again, I’m going to put myself back into that mindset. Clearly I was open to doing this because you and I had worked together, but it seemed so weird to me because, for whatever reason in this society, it’s one thing to admit, hey, I need to improve my boxing skill, so I am going to hire this boxing coach. But hey, I need to improve my confidence or my mental strategy, so I’m going to hire this mental performance coach.

Rich Franklin:

Particularly for me, because I mean, think about this, I’m a very cerebral fighter, and my background is in education. I’m a teacher. I’m a math teacher at that, and so, everything has a logical process. I use deductive reasoning skills and I’ve used all these kinds of skills that I’m just naturally good at and have been educated in to help me succeed, both as an athlete and as an executive. I mean, the mental pillar is part of one of the things that I’m good at. And so, to swallow a piece of that humble pie and say, yeah, I think I need a little help here, particularly when you’re so many years into a career where that wasn’t something that you needed, is a tough thing to do.

Rich Franklin:

But make no mistake about it, the reason why I think I was open to it is because I was always the kind of athlete that when I was doing karate initially, when I first started training and I was doing karate, like I said, I was the top dog at my dojo. And then my instructor’s son came home and I can remember sparring him and being in a cat stance with my traditional open hand technique and getting kicked in the thigh by my buddy, Sean, and landing a traditional round kick, thigh kick to my leg and man, when he hit me with that first kick, I’d never been hit like that before. What the heck? And immediately, instead of being proud and saying, “Well, wait a minute, I’m the top dog at this school. Nobody gets away with that.” I immediately looked at him, I said, “Teach me.”

Rich Franklin:

And so, I’ve always had this ability to, like I said, eat a little bit of that humble pie and take a step back and rewire yourself. But when it comes to confidence and things like that, it’s pretty difficult to do, especially at that time in history, hate to use that word makes me sound old, but at that point time where this was not something that people talked about, top level athletes talked about, and so, even though I walked out for every match, I was going into the arenas every match scared to death, I didn’t know that other athletes felt that way, not just fighters, but also every athlete. Not just athletes, people that are giving public speeches.

Rich Franklin:

And I learned that again when I did my Ted talk. Lord have mercy, I feel worse here than I did when I was actually competing for a title or something like that. And so, what you learn is that, anybody in this world who is putting their reputation on the line, it doesn’t matter what your discipline is, it doesn’t matter if you’re an executive and you’re trying to seal some commercial deals, if you’re a CEO of a company, if you’re a musician, if you’re some sort of performing arts, a ballerina, an athlete, I don’t care. When you put yourself on the line and you’re going to extend yourself out into a public forum where people can scrutinize and judge you and you’re willing to say, this is my art, this is my skill, this is what I’m good at, and I’m going to do it better than everybody else and I’m here to prove it.

Rich Franklin:

And when you do that, when you’re the person that does that, you’re going to feel some insecurities creep in here and there. And if you don’t know how to deal with that stuff, the mental game can be the thing that crushes you. And then in my industry, we call those people gym warriors. These are guys that, when nothing’s on the line and they’re in the gym, they’re killers. And I think, man, I would not want to run into this person in the cage except for once they step into the arena for competition, they mentally fold.

Brian:

Yeah, and I think you see that all the time where, you’re not going to rise to the occasion, you’re going to sink through your training, and I think the higher you go in levels of competition, the more and more mental performance training becomes important because everyone has the physical training. When you were looking at your last 10 fights, you were fighting guys who were number one through four in the world and every single one of those, call them last 15 fights of your career, essentially every fight in the UFC from Ken Shamrock to Khan Lee, every guy that you fought was in the top five at the time in the weight class. So when you’re fighting at that level, what difference does mental performance training make if you have it and the opponent doesn’t?

Rich Franklin:

Oh, it can be a huge difference. Look, I used an illustration in my Ted talk talking about, it was 2012 I believe, it’s been a while, so I haven’t brushed up on this story, but it’s the 2012 men’s speed skating event, 500 meter men’s speed skating event. I can’t remember the name of the three competitors, but all three competitors were from the same country, I believe Norway, I think. All three competitors were from the same country, trained at the same camp, and two of them were twin brothers, or at least they were brothers. I think they were twins. But when you look at the gold, silver and bronze medalists, all three of these guys, these were the gold, silver, and bronze medalists. And the difference between first place and second place was 1/100 of a second. That’s it. When you’re in a top level, it’s the difference between winning and losing. So when you talk about doing whatever it takes, you can train. Everybody trains, everybody trains hard, and most people they train smart, too. Some people train smarter than other people and that kind of veers into the mental performance side of things.

Rich Franklin:

But I always like listening to athletes. I particularly like listening to athletes when they lose. What are you going to do? Or when they interview a coach walking into the game at halftime, when he’s behind by 20 points, because this is a good indicator as to how the brain of that coach works. And you will overwhelmingly hear athletes when they lose say, well, I’m just going to have to get back to the gym and train harder. And I’m like, really? So you didn’t train hard enough for this match? Why did you sandbag if you know that if you sandbag, it’s going to produce the result you don’t want? Oh, you didn’t sandbag. So then how are you going to go back and train harder? Because you can’t. Because everybody goes into camp and they’re going to be giving a hundred percent basically every day. And if they’re not, that’s why they lost. And if they did, then that’s not why they lost, but they’re going to say, well, I just need to go back and train harder. And so when the reality is, is that you oftentimes need to take a step back and look at that mental performance and kind of realign things and train smarter, so to speak.

Brian:

Likewise, if you can train harder, why are you not? Or if you’re going to step up on fight night, why don’t you step up right now?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, exactly, and that’s what I’m saying. That’s why the point I was making was like, oh, you’re going to go back and train harder? Then why weren’t you giving a hundred percent in this camp? Oh, you did give a hundred percent. Well, then how are you going to go back and train harder? It’s like your reasoning doesn’t make sense there, unless you knew that you just had a bad camp and didn’t train the way that you should have, then that’s what you would say. But yeah, seeing people in their defeat is a good indicator as to how they’re going to reconstruct and rebuild.

Speaker 5:

And now, introducing the champion in the red corner. This man is a freestyle fighter who holds a professional record of 22 wins with one loss. Standing six feet one inch tall, weighing in at 185 pounds, fighting out of Cincinnati, Ohio, ladies and gentlemen, the defending UFC middleweight champion of the world, Rich “Ace” Franklin.

Brian:

One of the things I like to do on the podcast is put our guests in the hot seat and I’m going to give you a phrase and you’ve got to give me the first thing that comes to your mind. It’s rapid fire and I’m going to keep throwing them at you. So are you ready to get inside of the hot seat, Rich Franklin?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah.

Brian:

The next 200 feet.

Rich Franklin:

Oh, that’s the headlights man. That’s focus on what’s in front of you rather than what’s down the road, but that’s kind of cheating one, Brian, because this is a concept that you and I worked on about understanding what you got to do now, with what’s right in front of you rather than focusing on the end process. Driving down the road when it’s dark and your headlights only illuminate the next 200 feet, but if you’re trying to look out into, you’re not going to be able to see what’s out into the woods or what’s beyond that 200 feet or the deer running across the road. You’ve got to focus on what you can see.

Brian:

FedEx logo.

Rich Franklin:

We’ve done this one, too. It’s the arrow, man. Most people don’t see the arrow in the FedEx logo and I didn’t until you and I worked together and it’s about, some of those logos I did, like the Baskin Robbins. A lot of people don’t see the 31 in the Baskin Robbins and we’ve been through some of those things, but it’s about seeing things in a way you’ve never seen them before.

Brian:

Fear as fuel.

Rich Franklin:

Oh yeah, fear as fuel. Fear as fuel is one of those things that the first thing I think of is George Saint Pierre talking about the butterflies flying in formation. I heard him say that. I think that was actually at the Montreal post-fight press conference, when he said, “I had the butterflies and I just got to learn how to make my butterflies fly in formation.” And the whole point is that you’re never going to make the fear go away. I can remember when I was competing in Japan and Jeremy Horn, who was an athlete that had over a hundred matches at the time, I asked him, I said, “When does this fear go away?” And he says, “Well,” he said, “I don’t know, but when it does, I’ll let you know.” And I thought, oh, Lord. And I really thought that I would get to a point where I just wasn’t nervous about competing anymore. And so, hearing that and then hearing something like what George said, and all that kind of stuff, you realize that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Brian:

Comfortable with being uncomfortable. What a great concept for people to buy into. Talk about being uncomfortable. Talk about running to the roar.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah. This truly is one of those things that I think that, this probably would be a good mantra for my life. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable because I don’t understand, when you talk about fear as fuel, there’s a difference for me between fear fear, anxiety and I don’t know, reservations or something like that because I see people that are fear, like afraid of heights, to the point where they wouldn’t be able to say, jump off of a high dive at a pool literally, or they couldn’t climb up a ladder to get on their roof, or they can’t even walk across a glass bridge or something like that, or standing on my terrace and walk up to the edge of that and hold onto the railing and look over, and I don’t understand this concept of fear because it’s one of those things where I, in my mind, instead of being afraid, I do a calculated risk, I say, okay, well I know that this thing is constructed properly so I can walk up to this railing and hold onto it and I’m not going to fall off. I don’t have to worry about falling to my impending doom.

Rich Franklin:

And so instead of being afraid all the time, I use these things as a calculated risk so that I don’t let things shut me down from competing, but it’s going to create these feelings of uncomfortability. And so I just get comfortable being uncomfortable. I always use this example, if you’ve ever been driving down the road before and maybe an animal runs out in front of your car or a kid or something, I had a deer dart out in front of me on the road before and I almost hit a deer and you swerve really quick and you get that tingling sensation in your body because it’s this overload of adrenaline just immediately, and your body has this ability to almost like slow time down. You can see the deer, look in your rear view mirror, notice that there’s this car coming the other way so you can’t veer into the other lane and your mind is able to process all this stuff just in milliseconds. But somehow you miss this deer and you get around it and then that feeling immediately goes away again.

Rich Franklin:

And that’s one of those feelings for me and something that I learned from just competing as an athlete. That’s the feeling of being alive. You don’t feel that way all the time. You’re typically sitting at your desk pecking away on keys or you’re running a 5K and whatever it is that you’re doing, going about your daily stuff, but you don’t have this feeling of that feeling of being alive. And so for me, I thrive off of that. I don’t want to feel this way every single moment of my life, but I thrive off of these moments of standing at the top of a waterfall and going, wow, this is a little taller than I thought it was, but I’m going to go ahead and make this jump anyway and doing that jump.

Rich Franklin:

And so, I run to those kinds of things and I think that people that accomplish great things in life are the kind of people that are willing to do that, to go towards that stuff, running towards the roar rather than running away from it.

Brian:

That’s running towards the roar. We got just a couple more on the hot seat to wrap us up here, Rich. Talk about Welcome to the Jungle.

Rich Franklin:

Welcome to the Jungle is the walkout song that I used for my second match against Anderson Silva in Cincinnati. I changed my music up because it’s a Cincinnati song. They use it for the Bengals when they walk out. So, if you look at that match, I did a whole home hometown theme. I had the black and orange shorts. I veered from the brown and pink. I had a gray and scarlet T-shirt. That was my call callback to the Cincinnati Reds. They were the two home team athletic teams, and then I walked out to Welcome to the Jungle, which has kind of a hometown feel to it. So, anybody that was from Cincinnati knew what I was getting at with all that stuff.

Brian:

Speaking of getting after a hometown feel, February 21, 2006, Rich Franklin Day in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rich Franklin:

Man, Brian, I can barely remember my birthday anymore. I’m glad you told me what day that was, otherwise I would have been like, what’s February 21? No, I’m joking. But yeah, it’s interesting how things in your life happen to you that you never really like, they made a day out of me in Cincinnati, and I’m really actually struggling to put some words together here because I don’t-

Brian:

I figured you would be on that one. So let me give you one that’s a little bit easier, the Franklin Equation.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, well, we used to have a column on my website back in the day and I loved ghost writing some of these columns. I had somebody else who was helping me out with them, too. I don’t want to take full ownership of all those things, but it was really nice putting those thoughts together and I tell you what, the process of working with, it was a friend of mine, Tom, working on these Franklin Equations together as something that really gave me, I guess an interest in writing and stuff like that and just expressing your thoughts. So, I would say that that was probably the precursor really truly for me eventually doing my Ted talk as well.

Brian:

And I think, Frich, as I was saying, Franklin Rich, I think what you ought to do Rich is take the Franklin Equation and turn it into a book man because it was really good. I remember reading that and sharing it with high school athletes when I was a high school athletic director when we were working together. I think it was that good. Have you ever thought about putting it into a book?

Rich Franklin:

I haven’t. I think about books sometimes and Brian, I know that you’ve written so many books and man, it seems like so much work to do a book and so, you said something to me one time about the power of influence and all that kind of stuff, is one of these things that I’ve realized.

Rich Franklin:

I’ve always known this about myself. I’ve always known that I’ve had a platform, which is why when we told the story about the fan that I ran into at [inaudible 01:35:47] Falls outside of Sibu and the legacy that I left with him and all that kind of stuff. I’ve understood the power, that I have this influence, particularly with the words you speak and it doesn’t have to be an epic book that you necessarily write, but it can just be a simple statement that you make to somebody on a daily basis not realizing the impact you had on that person’s life or maybe not even that person’s life, maybe somebody else was sitting there and heard the thing you were saying to another individual and you impacted their life. You just don’t know.

Rich Franklin:

And so when it comes to writing a book and stuff like that, I sit and think about this all the time and almost, in my mind, I feel obligated at times that I have this ability to positively impact and influence the world and it’s something that I should be doing. So, maybe I’ll have to look at the Franklin Equations and look at turning that into a book.

Brian:

I know how much impact it had on me. I know how much impact it had on the students that I used to share it with, and I think, being able to go back and reflect on what you wrote and now turning that into a book would be an easier process than winning the MMA world championship. And I think just like many things in life, once you get that book done, you’ll look back and say, man, that was easier than I thought it would be.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I’ll be saying that. This is the same thing I told myself after I did my first public speaking. It took forever to get me to speak publicly and then after I did, I was like, oh, this isn’t that bad, and now I kind of enjoy the process actually. So I’ll probably tell myself, why didn’t I write a book sooner, while I’m writing my seventh book or something.

Brian:

My last question for you on the hot seat is, what was it like hearing your father say that he was proud of you for chasing the dream?

Rich Franklin:

Best moment of my career right there. You have to fully understand the context of this thing to understand why it’s important to me, but I’m the only child in my family to obtain a college education. And so, my dad went back to school late in life. He and I graduated from university, I think we actually graduated the same year. Yeah, he graduated, because I was in a five year program so I ended up with two bachelor’s degrees, and we graduated the same year and I have this picture of he and I together on my graduation day, and he’s got his arm around me and he’s got this smile of like contentment on his face, like yeah, that’s my boy, kind of look. And he was super proud of me for graduating not only as a teacher, but with a math degree because my dad was not academic to say the least.

Rich Franklin:

He probably barely graduated high school. He was just one of those screw off students when he was a kid, and then later on in life in his mid thirties, he realized, hey, I want to do something better with my life. So he went back and earned himself a nursing degree. And here I am teaching and four years into my career, I decide that I’m just going to walk away from this profession and pursue this career in mixed martial arts, which at the time wasn’t even an established industry. For me to say, I’m going to go try out for an NFL team and see if I can make the team, that’s different because at least, if you make the team like, yeah, look, my son made it to the NFL but this, this was still banned in 48 States.

Rich Franklin:

And so, my dad, when I told him that I was quitting my job as a teacher, in his mind it was just me throwing away my education. And the day that I told him this, he looked at me as if I just had given him the worst news ever. I think actually, I jokingly say this, I think my dad would have punched me if I was not a professional fighter. Not really, but I always joke around about that.

Rich Franklin:

But fast forward and several years later, my dad is in Las Vegas watching me defend my title for the first time and I met up with him at the Luxor because the event was at Mandalay Bay? No, MGM that time. So I met him at the Luxor, it was the night before my weigh in and he was having dinner and I was probably eating ice chips or something like that. And he looked at me and he said, “Man, I’m really proud of you for following your dreams and pursuing something that you wanted to do and just relentlessly pushing forward.” Kind of that message, how proud of me he was that I didn’t fold to doing whatever everybody else does in life, taking the easy route, and I knew this, but that moment to me was way more important, way, way, way more important than any title I ever won. Truly.

Brian:

Well, Rich, man, you’re off the hot seat now and I want to thank you for being a part of the Brian Cain podcast and for taking the time out of your crazy schedule and getting up super early over there in Singapore to be able to join us and do this, and for the listeners, if they’ve got questions or they’re fans and they want to follow you and keep track of your escapades as you go around the world representing one championship and following what you’re doing and checking out your show, what’s the best way for them to stay engaged with what Rich Franklin’s doing?

Rich Franklin:

Probably my social media. You can check me out. My Facebook is Rich Franklin. I think Twitter is also Rich Franklin and then the Instagram is at Rich Ace Franklin on Instagram. They’re all verified accounts so when you look it up you’ll know it’s me. But yeah, typically posting messages of positivism out there. Things about nutrition, lifestyle, motivation, working out, what I got going on with the ONE Warrior Series, my travels and all my recruitment process and all that kind of stuff. Now, of course that’s kind of shut down at the moment and we’re all in quarantine. But like I said before, I don’t view this obstacle in life is an obstacle. It’s an opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to launch my Franklin Speaking podcast and get that up and rolling, man. So, onward and upward.

Brian:

And it’s an opportunity for you to write the Franklin Equation.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, yeah.

Brian:

I look forward to seeing that coming out, Rich.

Rich Franklin:

I’m going to be pecking away at my computer when we get off here and see if I have those files on my computer, if I got to find them on some other hard drive.

Brian:

I’m going to have to go back and redo the intro, man. Not only is he a UFC world champion and a Hall of Famer, he’s also a bestselling author of the Franklin Equation. Rich Franklin, thanks for joining us on the Brian Cain podcast, man. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Rich Franklin:

Been awesome, brother, thanks for having me on.

Brian:

Thank you, man. Thank you for listening to the Brian Cain Mental Performance Podcast on the Ironclad Content Network. If you liked this show, be sure to leave us a rating and a review and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter at Brian Cain Peak. That’s at B-R-I-A-N C-A-I-N P-E-A-K. I’ll see you next time.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:42:30]

 

You’re probably staying up a couple of hours later than I am, too, though, so it all evens out in the end, man. As long as you’re getting that sleep and getting that recovery and you’re up being aggressive and on the attack, I’m sure things are going to work out for you.

Rich Franklin:

See, that’s the problem because with everything that’s going on with the pandemic in the world, I’ve had to make a lot of switches lately. We did the first episode of the podcast with you and now I’ve transferred everything to my apartment, so I technically have a studio set up here and was working late yesterday. So I was up until midnight, but once again up at 5:00 in the morning. Although I’m part of the 5:00 AM Club, still not getting that rest and recovery that I needed, but we’ll work on that tonight when I get to bed. Not to-

Brian Cain:

No doubt there. As a former high school teacher turned Mixed Martial Arts World Champion, I’m sure you’ve had a lot of those late nights, whether it’s grading exams or preparing for a fight or training. But, Rich, tell us, man, as a guy that was a high school teacher, how did you ever get into and develop a passion for mixed martial arts, man?

Rich Franklin:

Like every other boy growing up in the US, I had a dream of being one of two things. I either wanted to be a professional athlete or a superhero and I was fresh out of superpowers so I went with the second-best option.

Rich Franklin:

I really wasn’t gifted with that God-given talent to pursue athletics. I played football my whole life and as a high school player, I didn’t even start for the high school team. I got into martial arts my senior year of high school just as something to do to keep me athletically active because the football season had ended. So here I was, had been an athlete my whole life, and I’m thinking, “Well, now what am I going to do?”

Rich Franklin:

Lo and behold, I get into martial arts. I’m doing this just as a hobby. I train. I go to school to be a high school teacher. I’m majoring in mathematics and the entire time I’m in college I was just one of those very driven, goal-oriented people who, if I was not part of a study group, for example, or on campus doing something productive, then I was heading over to my training sessions. And I just did this because I loved doing it. At the time I didn’t have any aspirations of pursuing that professionally.

Rich Franklin:

Fast forward the clock. I’m teaching high school and this is several years later through all this years of training in college and a couple of years of training as a teacher and I start thinking, “I’ve actually really acquired a skill for this and this is something that I can consider doing full-time.”

Rich Franklin:

And I had discussions with some of the people that were closest to me at the time, one of which was my fight manager, Monte Cox. And Monte said, “Yeah, you know, I think this is something that you could really do well, but there are no champions in this world.” There are no part-time champions is what he said to me.

Rich Franklin:

So my fourth year of teaching I had to make a decision between either, I guess technically retiring, I’m making the quotation marks with my fingers, or just keep continuing with martial arts as a hobby. So I decided to walk away from teaching and give this a shot and the rest is history. It ended up paying off for me.

Brian Cain:

So you were the real life Here Comes the Boom?

Rich Franklin:

Essentially, yeah. Actually Kevin and I spent a lot of time together. He’s been to many of my matches, and we spend a lot of time together, and I spend a lot of time telling him a lot of stories about my career as a young professional. This is pre-big stage days, but in some of the organizations that I competed for. And I’d competed in fairgrounds where the cage broke, and chickens running around the warmup room and stuff like that. This was just normal for those times, and I’m sure he had taken some of those stories and applied them to the script, for sure.

Brian Cain:

It’s amazing man. And then even once your career started taking off, it wasn’t all like you ascended right from the high school classroom to becoming a world champion. There were definitely struggles. There was self-doubt despite all the success that you had. Could you talk a little bit about, even once your career started taking off, some of that self-doubt or the struggles that you went through as you were on the journey?

Rich Franklin:

For sure. Interestingly enough, though, Brian, just a little side note on that, is when you say that it didn’t just all of a sudden take off, it felt like it at the time and things blew up so quickly. I always jokingly tell people that at one point in my life I was this guy who would put my signature on a piece of paper that a kid didn’t want to take home to his parents, and it was called a progress report, and then you fast forward the clock, and just within a couple years, I was a guy who these same kids were waiting in line for four hours to get an autograph. I don’t know how that actually happens to a person. Really. I still to this day, scratch my head actually thinking about that. And it wasn’t an overnight process in the sense of the actual process of getting there because this is something that had started for me in high school, even unbeknownst to me at the time. When the ball started rolling and the momentum happened, it happened quickly, but I had plenty of moments of self-doubt.

Rich Franklin:

I can remember teaching and I had competed in a show in Evansville, Indiana, and I competed against a guy by the name of Gary Myers, who at the time was a UFC veteran. I had a good showing against him and competed really well. Won with a third round knockout kick to the head.

Rich Franklin:

Then there was a show on TV late at night. It was called… Oh, gosh, what was it called? It was run by Joel Gold. The name is… Full Contact. Full Contact? I can’t remember. It was an MMA show and Joel Gold had run the show, and Joel Gold was somebody that was known in the industry at the time and he was the host of the show.

Rich Franklin:

It was one of these shows that at the time, there wasn’t a huge fan base for mixed martial arts at the time and the sport was still growing and it was still banned in a lot of the States. The state athletic commissions didn’t know how to deal with a new sport.

Rich Franklin:

I remember coming home and people that were in the industry knew that this was the place to get information, and I was watching this show and I can remember listening to him breaking down that match between me and Gary, and at one point he said, “This is a kid you’re going to want to keep your eyes on because he’s got a future and he’s going to make waves in mixed martial arts.”

Rich Franklin:

I remember hearing that at the time and thinking, “Wow, there are actually other people watching me. This is not just about me on this pursuit of improving myself as a person, this pursuit of excellence there is now.” I felt this sudden pressure. I remember hearing that and actually mentally considering walking away from the sport altogether because the amount of pressure that I’d suddenly felt was so tremendous, and I just had this lack of confidence in that moment.

Rich Franklin:

I think if I would’ve let that lack of confidence overwhelm me at that point in time and actually push me from what would inevitably be my future, imagine how differently my life would have turned out.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, and at the time, Rich, when you emerged on the scene in MMA, I think there was definitely a stigma of what mixed martial arts was and what a mixed martial arts fighter looked like and you blew that out of the water as an ambassador for the sport.

Brian Cain:

Did you ever feel like that pressure of being the face of an organization or really being a part of the guard of changing a stigma around a sport?

Rich Franklin:

Not really. It’s interesting concept as I sit and think about this because I’m doing work on the other side of the planet for ONE Championship, and a lot of the martial artists that we work with here are so steeped in traditional martial arts culture in their respective countries with whatever art it is that they’re practicing, that that same stigma doesn’t exist on this side of the planet that it did in the US, as far as the stereotype of what people…

Rich Franklin:

Back in the early 2000s when you thought of a mixed martial arts, which at the time was referred to as many different things, no holds barred, full-contact fighting. Vale Tudo was another phrase that was used. There was this vision or this stereotype of what people thought is shaved head, tattoos, bar brawls and everything associated with that. And here I was, this good old-fashioned Midwest American pie, bring home to mom, young boy who was a high school math teacher, educated and fairly well-spoken, that suddenly the sport, the industry, the organization, everybody could lean on like, “Hey look, smart people do this, too.” So it changed things.

Rich Franklin:

A lot of that stemmed back to the traditional training because when I started my martial arts, at the time, mixed martial arts didn’t exist in the US, so we were still doing things like karate, for example. I started in the traditional Japanese, Okinawan Shorin-ryu karate, and my instructor, his son had come home from the Marine Corps and I started learning a little bit of Muay Thai that he had learned overseas when he was doing some of his stints overseas and whatnot, and then quickly started doing that and then it branched out to jujitsu.

Rich Franklin:

The point is is that I started with this traditional background and it’s the same situation that I have doing the work that I’m doing on this side of the planet that that stereotype doesn’t exist, but it really was important at that point in time in history for the growth of the industry.

Brian Cain:

When your career started to take off, like a lot of people, there was a struggle to maintain balance in your life. What was that like and how did you end up creating more of a balanced perspective as you got more fame and more notoriety and won a championship?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, that was probably one of the most difficult things that I had to deal with in my career because, like I said, it seemed like overnight. Once the momentum hit, it really did hit quickly because… I quit teaching full-time in 2002 and then my title fight was in 2005, in June of that year.

Rich Franklin:

Now, I was still teaching part time in an at-risk program for those next couple of years. I was doing that two, maybe three days a week at the most, sometimes two days, sometimes three days a week. This was just an off-campus at-risk program where the kids were doing all their work on computers.

Rich Franklin:

I remember that in ’05 that year, I had competed against Ken Shamrock in March, and then I was offered the title fight in June. It was June 4th and the school year ended something, say, like May 26, so I was still teaching part-time all the way up until May 26, so I was still living this fairly normal life, fairly regular kind of thing.

Rich Franklin:

Then I remember telling the director of that program at the time like, “Hey, I’m not going to be returning after June because me competing against…” I had competed against Evan Tanner in the title fight that June and the winner of that title fight became the coach on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. So I was already telling him in my mind…

Rich Franklin:

And this was the confidence I had at the time. It’s crazy how we talk about going through periods of you’re questioning your ability, being unconfident, whatever, to this period of confidence. I just said to him outright, like, “After June, my life is going to end up changing because I’m going to win this match.”

Rich Franklin:

In my mind, it was just inevitable that I was going to win and then be the coach on season two of The Ultimate Fighter and life just took off at that point. I suddenly went from, literally, two weeks prior to that teaching part-time in a high school at-risk program to suddenly filming a television show. Once the filming of that show was over, I was on this whirlwind PR tour of everything from magazine interviews, to cover shoots, to appearances at things like Maxim parties and stuff like that. Constantly, I was all over the place, just jet-setting, and I went from being a person who had probably been on a plane maybe two or three times in my life to somebody who was flying over 100,000 miles a year, almost what seemed like overnight.

Rich Franklin:

For something to happen that quickly, there is no manual for how to maintain a normal life. Everything from personal relationships to even just your training schedule. It puts such a strain on your training schedule and all this new sensory input, it’s tough to deal with. It’s a difficult thing to manage and, fortunately, for me, this happened at a time where I was, say, in my late twenties, right around the 30-ish mark, which is much different than somebody who is just fresh out of college, like a 21, 22 year old kid being offered a contract with the NFL, for example, where you suddenly have a $5 million signing bonus and life is completely different.

Rich Franklin:

I can’t imagine having to deal with that at the age of 21, but that was the most difficult thing is constantly maintaining that balance between the two. Because if you weren’t being pulled for some sort of PR event then you were managing training camps, having to train out of town.

Rich Franklin:

For one of my matches, for the Anderson Silver Rematch, I conducted my entire camp in the middle of Wyoming in a little town called Pinedale where the population is just a couple thousand people, or at least at the time it was, and I sequestered myself like a Rocky IV training camp in the middle of the mountains in the snow. When you disappear for six, eight weeks at a time and then suddenly you have a match and then you come back, and now you’ve got PR to do on top of it, it really wreaks havoc on your personal life.

Brian Cain:

If you could go back knowing what you know now and get the Rich Franklin of just everything you just described: winning the Evan Tanner fight, becoming a UFC champion, now you’re a coach on the Ultimate Fighter II. If you could rewind and go back and have a conversation with yourself about, “Hey, man, here’s what’s coming. You need to do this differently than you’re going to.” What would you have said to yourself?

Rich Franklin:

I think for me, part of… Let me just say this. There was always this pressure that I only had a small earning window, a small window of opportunity with your career. And it’s true as an athlete. If you have a 10 year career as an athlete, you’re blessed. And that’s about the length of my career at the pinnacle, but I always operated, and a lot of the decisions that I made, were as if my time were running out, and so I think I would go back and the advice I would give my younger self is just one word. Breathe. That’s it. Breathe. Everything is going to work out the way that it should and all you really need to do is focus on your training and winning and being productive and stuff like that. B.

Rich Franklin:

Because what ends up happening, and we talk about the MVP process before, Brian, and you and I have talked about this and we talked about the precursor of this when you and I were working together, but your principles and understanding what your principles are and it’s easy to maybe, I don’t know, bend or just temporarily put those on hold because you suddenly, “Oh, I need to do this match. I know that I’m going to be training through Christmas and I know that I just fought a match a couple of months ago, but I need to do this because my window of opportunity here is short, and so I got to take advantage of these chances, these opportunities while I can.”

Rich Franklin:

So you start making, say, compromise judgments on stuff like that, when, in fact, that time is irreplaceable. So I would go back and just tell myself to breathe and put things in perspective.

Brian Cain:

When you talk about breathing and putting things in perspective and it sounded like Rich, you definitely created a forced sense of urgency-

Rich Franklin:

For sure.

Brian Cain:

… because you knew that as an athlete it doesn’t last forever. You can’t stay on top of the mountain forever. Talk about that forced sense of urgency that you created for yourself to do the work that it took, but then on the flip side, also being able to breathe and stay balanced, because it sounds like they’re opposites, but I think they actually really go together.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, for sure. They’re opposites depending on how you actually position these two things against each other. In my life now, I always remind myself of… There’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, is talking about how you can’t serve two gods. You can’t serve two gods simultaneously because you’ll either love the one and hate the other or vice versa. So, for example, maybe you’re the kind of person that likes to sleep in on a Saturday, but you’re also the kind of person that likes to get fitness results. These two things, they’re really contradictory to each other, so you can’t do both of them at the same time, typically. If you’re going to be the kind of person that sleeps in, as you and I’ve talked about before, you have the most time in the mornings and at night before you go to bed, and you’ve just wasted that time and you’re typically going to let your aspirations get pushed aside by something else that becomes more important.

Rich Franklin:

With my career and this pressure of only having a limited amount of time, what you need to do is you need to keep in perspective of what the most important things are, because what ends up happening, and you and I had talked about this recently in a conversation where we were talking about spinning the plates, and I had told you that at that time, I was spinning plates but as the years or as the days went on in my career, I was adding more and more and more plates to spin. You had made the best comment to me about, “Well, what you need to do is get those plates all spinning in the same direction.” And I don’t think at the time that I was getting the plates spinning all in the same direction.

Rich Franklin:

These two concepts of understanding your principles, but at the same time having this limited timeframe, were really contradictory to each other rather than working in unison the way that they could. I think at the time, everything was so chaotic for me that I didn’t have a good system of sitting down and truly prioritizing things, particularly within my career, of prioritizing the things that were important and the things that were urgent versus the things that were not nearly as important or not nearly as urgent and creating this priority chart and making sure that you’re only taking care of those top priority things professionally so that it doesn’t step over the things in your life personally.

Rich Franklin:

I think what ends up happening, because you feel so much pressure, is that something that’s in your life professionally that may not have this sense of urgency ends up being categorized as something that’s more important than something in your professional life that perhaps does have a sense of urgency and you start to lose track of those kinds of things unless you have a really good process for that.

Rich Franklin:

It took time. I think part of the reason why that took time, like I said, is because the chaos just came upon me so quickly.

Brian Cain:

Yeah, I know, Rich, so much good stuff, man, that you’re throwing out here, and I want to come back to a couple of things that you mentioned where you talked about living with a set of principles. What are the principles that drive the life of Rich Franklin?

Rich Franklin:

Oh man. I don’t know. There’s 767 of them.

Brian Cain:

What’s one that you feel like, if you had to say this is the keystone principle or a keystone principle in your life, what would be an example of one for our listeners?

Rich Franklin:

Something like integrity. If you stand for a certain thing, making sure you stay true to that kind of thing. Things about my faith or my family or something like that. Other principles, things like discipline, staying true to your discipline. I did a lot of things really well in my career, for example, as I’ve always been a disciplined person, so I never let the fame, and the fame in quotation marks, but I never let that stuff sidetrack me from what was truly important. I always maintained my normal training routine. I was at my practices. You can look at my coaching staff. Basically, I maintained the same coaching staff through my entire career.

Rich Franklin:

Even after Matt Hume and I started working together, which was all about the same time that I started working with Joel, you, and some things had changed. I still never got rid of my original coaching staff because I was never displeased or looking to just drop old people or new people.

Rich Franklin:

For example, the agreement that I had with my fight manager was a handshake agreement, and we operated on that my entire career. I would continue operating with him on any kind of business endeavor with a handshake agreement, and I pride myself on being that kind of person.

Rich Franklin:

I don’t think I ever lost my core principles. I never became that kind of guy that was showing up at family parties with the Ferrari and stuff like that, which would be just a really terrible thing to do because I grew up from very humble and poor beginnings, and to suddenly be that guy who’s like, “Hey, look at me everybody…”

Rich Franklin:

There’s the allure of that pulling you that direction, but these kinds of principles, I stayed true to these kinds of things. I believe at the time I had several good people in my life that were keeping me grounded, but at the same time, when all this chaos begins, you get surrounded by a lot of “yes people” in your life, people that are just like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, champ. Yeah, you deserve this.” You have to be careful about the people that you surround yourself with and cipher through what’s good for you and what’s not good for you.

Brian Cain:

Wow, I see that so often, too, with a lot of the professional athletes I work with, guys coming out of college, first round draft picks and signing for millions of dollars. Then next thing you know they’re a human ATM machine, and they don’t know who to go to to get an actual legit, honest answer. They’re just getting a yes from everybody because nobody wants to be the one who’s rocking the boat.

Rich Franklin:

Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things I was blessed with, is a group of friends that didn’t have a hard time… It was easy for them to give me a hard time, but more importantly, when you were messing things up, I was surrounded by people that were like, “Hey, bro, you’re off course.”

Brian Cain:

It’s like a GPS, right? That you start to get off course, boom, and they bring you back before you can get so far off course that you get lost.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, absolutely. I always say this, at the time, Beth, my wife, she was probably my moral compass through a lot of that stuff at that time. Had it not been for a couple of good people like that in my life, some good moral anchors, things like even staying in church and stuff like that, it would be easy to drift in the wrong direction. It’s easy.

Brian Cain:

Rich, one of the principles I think that I would have used to describe you is humility. And I know you were a big Barry Sanders fan growing up and I know how after fights in Vegas…

Brian Cain:

I’ve been to championship fights with fighters and they win and they have the after party and there’s a big celebration, and a lot of fighters now in the news for probably taking that too far and getting themselves into trouble. But you were never a guy who really celebrated and why was that? What was that? Was that something that was intentional for you about not celebrating or was just something you were not into?

Rich Franklin:

No, you brought up Barry Sanders and growing up as a kid watching him play… First of all, I got to meet Barry at an autograph expo in Cleveland one year, and I didn’t know I was going to meet him and my management had set this up, and I suddenly walk behind these curtains and Barry Sanders is standing there and I’m like, “Holy crap.” Probably the first and only time in my life I’ve been star struck really because I grew up watching this guy, and I really respected him as an athlete because every time he scored a touchdown… I think maybe I saw him spike a ball once or twice in his entire career, and everytime he crossed the goal line, he crossed the goal line as if that not only was it his job, but he expected the cross the goal line. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m not going to celebrate because I knew that I was going to get in this end zone, and so it doesn’t call for celebration.”

Rich Franklin:

I treated my career the same way in the sense that when I won… You can see a couple of matches where I got a little excited, but when I won, I almost never celebrated and never really did anything too crazy because I expected to win. I didn’t expect to win because I thought of myself as something great or somebody great as much…

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:26:04]

Rich:

Because I thought of myself as something great, or somebody great, as much as I put in the work, and I knew that I put in the work to do the things that I wanted to do or needed to do in order to win that match. So when the final bell rung and the hand was getting raised, I figured that it would be mine. And because I did the work and so I always, I guess, maintained that humble attitude, because it’s like, well I’m just doing what I trained to do. And so now it’s time for me to get back in the gym, get back to training because the next one’s coming. And I think that’s what great athletes do. I always told myself I’m never going to focus on past performances, and it’s always about what’s coming next, which is why, I guess Brian, when you talk about being humble, I don’t even have an ego, like an ego room or an ego wall in my house. I don’t have any of my belts hanging. I don’t have my hall of fame trophy out. I have very few pictures. If you came into my home, you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell that I was a professional athlete because I don’t have any of that stuff out.

Rich:

And the way I view that is, people will ask you like, “What are you most proud of? What accomplishment are you most proud of?” And I don’t really reflect on my accomplishments and think like, “Wow, I did this and that’s great and I should be proud.” And that’s not to say that I don’t ever think like I’ve done some great things in my life and some cool things, but I had a great career, for example, and so a lot of people will say, “Oh, well that was Rich, and he was…” You know, I’ll always be associated with being a UFC middleweight champ for example, but I have a lot of great stuff going on now. The things that I work on now over here at ONE Championship and the project I’m doing with ONE Warrior Series, and the things I’ve done on this side of the planet, in my mind, I’m doing things that are just as great and just as epic, if not more epic, than what I was doing as a professional athlete.

Rich:

So for me, I’m always looking… You know, you talk about being present and in the moment, it’s like I live my life that way. I don’t think about what I’m going to accomplish 10 years from now, and how great I’m going to be. And I don’t think about what I accomplished yesteryear and how great I was. It’s like this moment that I’m in right now, I’m doing some great stuff, and I have some really good things a brewing. So I’m always focused on what the moment that I’m in, and the process that I have going on, and the embetterment or the standard of excellence that I’m trying to pursue with whatever it is I’m involved in at that point in my life.

Brian Cain:

And have you always had a perspective like that, or is that something that you kind of materialized and grew for you as you grew and got more perspective in life?

Rich:

I think maybe… It’s difficult for me to kind of rewind the clock to a young, young version of me. And when I say young, I mean like a child. I’ll say this. There are certain aspects of me that I think of that as a young kid, for example, even in elementary school or junior high, when it came to a sport, I was the first kid on the field and I was the last kid off the field. I’ve always been that way. I’ve been that way with my schoolwork. I’ve been that way with pretty much anything that I want to pursue in life. And I believe that, I believe… When you and I’ve talked about this, that you’re going to do the greatest thing in life the way that you do the smallest thing in life. And so we talk about process, and you and I’ve talked about like routines and things like that. And when I get up in the morning, taking the time to make my bed, and not just throwing the cover on there, but making sure that it’s put on neatly, and all those kinds of things. I take the time to make my bed in the morning and it’s a process that I go where I’m going to put that effort in making sure that something is done right. And I’ve always been that kind of person.

Rich:

So when you talk about some of these things like have always been this kind of person? I think that that seed has been there my entire life. It’s something that I’ve been born with, but being able to cultivate that throughout the years is something that I’ve been able to do. And perhaps it’s not something that I consciously set forth to do, but just part of the natural process of pursuing things.

Brian Cain:

So you said, let me make sure I got this right, because that was one of the best quotes that I’ve gotten in a long time was, do the greatest thing the same way you do the smallest thing.

Rich:

Exactly.

Brian Cain:

You know, Rich, I think when you take that approach, and you look at confidence and when you’re stepping inside of a cage and I’ve had a chance to get to know five UFC world champions, some of those guys you’ve been inside of the octagon with, and all of them, at times, have asked about confidence. How do I get more confidence? And I think if there was one question that I get when I work with college teams or even pro athletes outside of mixed martial arts, they always want to say, “How do I get more confidence?” Where does Rich Franklin’s confidence come from? And if you were speaking to an athlete who said, “Rich, how do I get more confidence?” What would you say?

Rich:

Well, look, in order to be confident, you’re going to have to have a certain level of success. I mean, success breeds confidence, and then confidence breeds more success, and then more success breeds more confidence. But before you get to that successful point is well how do you start with confidence? Granted as a champion, I was much more confident as an athlete than I was as a newcomer perhaps, but the reality is that the whole confidence starts with your thought process. You get up in the morning, and the thoughts that you allow to enter your head are the things that will determine your confidence. Your thoughts become your actions. This is one of those kind of cliche statements that a lot of people use, and it’s so true. But from there, these thoughts, you start to build into other things. Like you create routines, and these routines, then whether it’s a practice for something or whether you’re making your bed in the morning, these routines develop skills and those skills, as you refine them, become sharper and sharper. And the ability to refine these skills and make you sharper only reinforces the thoughts that you put into your head about how you’re going to accomplish something great, or how you’re going to win this next match, or how you’re going to nail that promotion at your job, or whatever it is that you are struggling with.

Rich:

And so, starts with a thought process and then it develops into your actions. And then those actions, they continually just build upon each other until you get to the point where it’s your game day. Whatever that game day is, the presentation, the promotion, the match, the game, whatever, the recital that you’re going up for. And then you succeed. And once you succeed, it only breeds more confidence, which helps the thought process that in turn only reinforces those routines and so on and so forth. So the circular thing just keeps going in the direction that you want it to go in, but it all starts with the seed of a thought.

Brian Cain:

Every day I talk with coaches and trainers who ask some version of the same question, how can I get my athletes to stay focused and calm under pressure when the game is on the line? How can I help my clients make better decisions even when it’s hard? How can I get my clients and athletes to refocus and get back on track when they mess up their diet, miss a workout, make a bad play or have a bad game, and not let one failure spiral into more struggles?

Brian Cain:

I’m Brian Cain and for the past two decades, I’ve been a mental performance coach to some of the top coaches, athletes, and performers on the planet, and now I’ve created a mental performance mastery coaching certification course to teach you every strategy and technique that I’ve honed over the past two decades to help my clients and athletes close the gap from where they were, to where they want to be and when, including UFC world champions, Olympic medalists, Heisman trophy winners, Cy Young award winners in major league baseball. It’s worked for them and it will work for you. Head over to briancain.com and click on Certification and join our team of mental performance mastery certified coaches, and helping your clients and athletes achieve results that they’ve only dreamed of with our 10 pillars of mental performance mastery system, helping you and your clients close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

Brian Cain:

You know what? I think when you talk about the seed of a thought and you talk about success breeds confidence, I think so many times athletes and just people in general think that success is getting to the top of the mountain, versus just doing the hiking, like making your bed is a success. Having a good breakfast is a success. Doing the workout when you said you were going to do it to the way it was supposed to be done is a success, and I think when you have that day to day process, that’s often that preparation and process that’s going to feed that confidence as well. Could you talk a little bit about the importance of process and routine as it feeds confidence?

Rich:

For sure. You and I we’ve talked about this before too, Brian. I mean there’s so many things that we talked about… Things… When you and I worked together as coach athlete, there so many things that we worked on and then some things that I did really well. And one of the mistakes I made is not enjoying the process early on. I’ll tell a story from later in my career I was in Germany and it was my first match against Vandelay Silva, and if you’ve seen that match, Vandelay and I went through a 15 minute war and I think I went to the hospital quickly or had to see the doctors afterwards. Nothing major. I didn’t require any surgery, and then came back to the hotel that night, and I had a dinner planned with my team, but it took me a while to get out of the arena that night, and by the time I got back to the hotel, the hotel was swarming with fans. They were in the parking lot. They were all over the place. This was our first show in Germany. And so there were thousands and thousands of fans at the hotel.

Rich:

And I remember pulling up in the van and just being so tired and my hands were hurting. And I had spent time in the locker room icing things, and just as I pulled up, I stood there and I was like, “Oh man, I can’t. I just want to sit down and eat with my team.” And I remember my coach Rob, my boxing coach, he looked at me and he said, “Champ,” he said, “Think about this. How many more opportunities are you going to have like this, where you show up in, there are just thousands of people waiting for you to get a photo and an autograph.” He’s like, “These people are your fans.” And I said, “You know what, you’re right.” And this kind of ties into one of the things I learned from you about viewing obstacles as opportunities, and so we get out of the car, and I start signing autographs. Now low and behold, my coach, he disappears within about 30 seconds, and he’s at the table of the dinner that I had ordered for everybody sitting there chowing down and enjoying things on the second floor of the hotel while I’m stuck in the parking lot, signing autographs for the next two and a half hours, but it was a reminder that nothing lasts forever and I made the mistake.

Rich:

And now taking that story and rewinding back towards the front end of my career, I made the mistake of not enjoying the process, because I was so fixed on the goal, on the end game, at the time that when it came to the competition, you know, I was so fixed on winning the title at one point in my career. I mean there was a point in my career where I never even thought the title was… There was a point in my quote unquote career where I didn’t even really consider pursuing MMA full time, but then when you suddenly, these thoughts, and reinforce the actions and the actions, you know, the routines and all that and now suddenly you get on a path of what you believe is inevitability and that title is going to be mine.

Rich:

And I was so fixed on the title, on the end game that I forgot to actually enjoy the process. And the night that I won my title, my belt, I remember we fought at Trump Plaza in Atlantic city and I walked back to my hotel room and I was standing there with just a small group of my inner circle and I sat the belt down on the hotel bed, and I looked at it and you’re going from an arena of 12, 13,000 screaming fans to this silent hotel room within the hour. Even though I had my close friends with me, it’s a kind of a lonely feeling, so to speak. I can understand how like rock stars for example, get so intertwined into things like drugs and stuff like that or depression. And I just remember standing there in my hotel room and I said to everybody there, I said, “I don’t feel like a champion.”

Rich:

I don’t know what I expected. In my mind, I pictured those parades that you see when the soldiers were returning from World War II overseas and the whole city of New York was just filled with people. I think I expected my life to be like that every day for the rest of my life perhaps, but when I got there, it was just, well, now you’ve won the title, and now it’s time to wake up tomorrow, and reinforce those thoughts, that are going to reinforce those routines, that are going to once again get you to winning the next match.

Rich:

And so it was about that time that I was really harshly reminded that the enjoyment really is in the process. And so, recently I was climbing Mount Fuji, and as I was walking up the mountain, and don’t get me wrong, I had moments of asking myself, why the heck I’m doing this thing, particularly because I hadn’t trained for that mountain and I didn’t have some of the proper gear, like things like food and water that I needed because it was only a six hour hike. And I thought, well, I can do anything for six hours. But as I was walking up that mountain, there was times where I asked myself why I was doing it, but I had to remember that it was an epic process because the reality is that once I got to the top of the mountain, I was going to stand there and enjoy that view for, I don’t know, two minutes, 10 minutes, whatever, but eventually I had to come back down that mountain, and that’s just a short lived extrinsic stimulus that you get from that. And if you’re not intrinsically motivated by something by the enjoyment of the process, for example, then you’re going to find that all those experiences in life when you win a world title and you go back to your hotel room is going to feel very empty.

Brian Cain:

You talk about that, the hike up Mount Fiji and there was another hike recently that you were on in the Philippines where maybe, unlike when you were in the hotel at the Trump Plaza, after you won that UFC title, and you put it down on the bed and you said, “I don’t feel like a champion.” You’re on this hike in the Philippines, and you run into a fan that told you something that was meaningful to you. Take us back to that moment and that conversation.

Rich:

Yeah, so I was recently had traveled down to Cebu in the Philippines, and we went outside of the downtown area several hours and there’s this area called Kawasan Falls. It’s a beautiful place. If you want to do a nice, not an extreme hike, just a nice little hike where there’s some waterfalls, and by waterfalls I mean anything from say 10 feet to something that’s more like 40 or 50 feet. This is a great little hike and you can jump off of these waterfalls or there ways to walk around them as well, but it’s just beautiful. It’s about a two to three hour hike, nothing too strenuous, and it’s really, really majestic back there. But the hike essentially culminates to this final waterfall that’s about, I guess about 50, 55 foot, and we’re jumping off all these waterfalls, and we get to the final waterfall and we jump. We sat, we had lunch when we were finished, we’re leaving the trail, and I bumped into this guy who happens to be from Cincinnati also. And he says to me, “Hey!” He says, “Rich Franklin?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah.” He says, “Man, I’m a huge fan.”

Rich:

Essentially when you’re in the middle of nowhere, as compared to Cincinnati, that is, and somebody recognizes you and it’s been almost a decade since you’ve been on television live, in the manner of competition, you know that you’re talking to somebody that’s a true fan. He says, “Hey man, I’m a huge fan,” and you really appreciate it, and started talking about some of my, “I really appreciate your match against and so and so, and this and that.” And he said, “But hey, I said I really appreciate you representing Cincinnati really well.” He said, “And you were always a good role model for my children, somebody that I always wanted my kids to tune into and listen to and watch.” And you know, I’m often asked like, what accomplishment are you the proudest of in your career? And like I said before, I don’t get caught up on something that actually happened because I’m always working on what is now, but when somebody says something like that to me, and I realize that that is the legacy that I left behind for a lot of people, that to me is far more important than any belt that could have ever been wrapped around my waist.

Speaker 2:

Again, on the [inaudible 00:00:42:18]. Out.

Speaker 3:

And down goes Curry.

Speaker 2:

Out cold. Wow.

Speaker 3:

A first round knockout. [inaudible 00:42:24] Rich Franklin [crosstalk 00:42:26] retains his belt.

Speaker 2:

Big one punch knockout.

Brian Cain:

Yeah Rich, when you talk about legacy, one of the things that I wanted to accomplish kind of with this new format of the podcast, was giving people an opportunity to ask questions of our guests. So some of the questions that came in, first one comes from Zane. And Zane said, “Rich, would you mind describing how you transitioned from top of the world fighter in the UFC to a high level executive at ONE Championship? And how has the transition been spending most of your life now in different geographic areas?

Rich:

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to take all the credit for this because Brian, I believe this whole heartedly. I believe that God has put me on a path in this world, and has just kind of watched over me my entire life, because I don’t have any way of actually explaining how a third string high school football athlete who doesn’t have a background in any other sport ends up becoming a world champion in a combative sport.

Rich:

And I always said to myself, when I was done competing, I want to travel around the world a little bit and see some of the world. Now I was fortunate and blessed enough to compete in seven different countries internationally. I think it’s seven, but several countries, but you don’t really get to see the world because you’re there during competition week. You’re so focused on the competition, you don’t get to enjoy much of the culture, the city that you’re in, or any of that kind of stuff. So when I was done competing, I said, “I want to travel a little bit and see some things.”

Rich:

And lo and behold now, I’m doing this job where my job essentially is to travel and recruit talent. And when I recruit talent, I take these guys and we go do some fun stuff. Sometimes I might be jumping off a waterfall, sometimes I might be eating some crazy food like live squid, and that I did when I was in Seoul, and so on. There’s just, it’s crazy some of the things that I do, and I’m scratching my head sometimes asking myself like, how did I even end up in this position? And so, I believe that God had a hand in that for me, but also, I still have to do my part. I’m not sitting here saying that God said, “You know what? You’re going to win a world title. I got this. Don’t you worry about a thing?” I still had to put in the work and do my half of things. And that’s what I did to kind of position myself here.

Rich:

The transition initially, it was a little, it’s an adjustment, I’ll say from the perspective of there was a point in my life where working out was my job. Now I actually have a job where working out is technically a hobby. I have to fit it into my day. That’s probably the toughest adjustment I’ve had to make because I used to get up in the morning to do my road work because I was getting paid to do it. Now I got to get up in the morning and do my road work and I have to be motivated to do it on top of doing the things that I get paid to do, which is a weird feeling because it’s like, well wait, this used to be my job.

Rich:

So that’s been a bit of a transition, understanding that, and I think initially I probably had a bit of a personal pushback on that. Like, no, no, no, no, no, no. I still maintained training as if I was still competing professionally. I was still training several hours a day or at least maintaining as much of it as I could until I finally took ownership of the role that I’m in. And I viewed this, like I talked about earlier, as I have this skill, and I want to refine this skill. And so with the program that I have now, this ONE Warrior Series program, I said before, I’ve pretty much been given full creative control on this thing. And so if I put out a good episode or if there’s something about an episode that I don’t like, a lot of that reflects on me personally. And it’s not just me, but I mean, I have an amazing team. I don’t want to take the credit for all of this. I’m not sitting at the edit bays myself, and I’m not the one behind the cameras shooting the footage and whatnot, but we sit down as a team and collaborate at the end, and we’re constantly looking at how we can make the process better, and how we can produce better stuff.

Rich:

And it’s the same kind of mentality that I had as an athlete and I think that what has been able to make me successful in the corporate world, and even though people still see me in front of the camera, if you’re on this side of the planet, my show airs in about 15 different countries over here, and people see me in front of the camera and will still see me, I guess, kind of as the quote unquote talent. But from an executive standpoint and a business standpoint is when you have that mentality of I have a skill, or an art, and I’m going to study this, I’m going to analyze it, break it down, and I’m going to do it better than my competition. I’m going to do whatever it takes to do it better than my competition. And by whatever it takes, I mean within the rules of integrity. Then you apply that to, like I said, you do the smallest thing in life just as well as you do the greatest thing.

Rich:

A bicycle has a chain that makes the wheels go round, but that chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and so I’ve always taken this philosophy in life, so I’m going to treat my executive career the same way I treated my athletic career, and I don’t view this as like, “Well, you know, man, I would really still like to be competing, but now I’m stuck doing this.” It’s like, no, this is the next great adventure that I’m on, and I’m going to leave a legacy on this career the same way that I left a legacy in my first career.

Brian Cain:

Yeah Rich, our next question comes in from Sarah, and Sarah [inaudible 00:47:47] she said, “Rich, you were an athlete I looked to who always had a quote unquote relentless work ethic. Did you always feel like working out?” And I think you can take that and tie it into right now, like you just said it, you used to get up in the morning and do the road work because you were getting paid for it, and because you knew there was another guy who was doing the same work that you were getting in a cage with. Now that there is no more, you getting into a cage, you’re getting up to do it because you like to do it. Do you always feel like doing it when you get up?

Rich:

Always next question.

Brian Cain:

Seriously?

Rich:

No. Are you kidding me?

Brian Cain:

I was going to say man, well, dude, you are a super human. No one always feels like working out. How do you move through it though when you don’t feel like it?

Rich:

No, I’ll tell you that, and this is a difficult thing for me. All joking aside about the 5:00 AM club, Brian. Look for somebody who’s had a 15 year career in mixed martial arts, and on top of it, I’m an adrenaline junkie. I do dumb things, really dumb things all the time. I’m the only person in my forties that I know that skis down a mountain acting like I’m 13 trying to do new tricks and stuff like that, and constantly wiping out and hitting the ground. And when you’re 13 if you break an arm, you can literally get up, and wiggle the arm out and the break goes away. It doesn’t happen in your forties anymore.

Rich:

And so these little bumps and bruises that I’ve accumulated during my entire life, and I’ve had, I don’t know, several surgeries, they start to add up. And when I wake up in the morning, my back is a little tight, and my feet, they’re not quite woken up yet. And I got to spend time stretching out. And so when I was in my twenties and my early thirties I could just jump up and hit the road, just hit the pavement and go. And now if I want to do, for example, empty stomach cardio in the morning before I actually hit the road, I got a lot of kind of like stretching out, loosening up, and the next thing you know it, that 30 minute routine turns into an hour. By the time I’ve loosened up and done everything I need to do to actually hit the road.

Rich:

So, it’s quite difficult when you wake up and you’re like, “Oh man, I’m just a little sore and this and that.” And on top of that, most of the workout that I do now, whether I’m in the gym or if I’m doing roadwork, any kind of conditioning, or bag work, or things like that, other than when I’m grappling with people and whatnot, it’s different, but a lot of the stuff that I do is on my own. And so to stay self-motivated is really quite difficult. But I always tell myself this, this is the one thing, and I had mentioned this to you the other day, every time I had to get up in the morning and run when it was cold outside and there was snow on the ground and I would get up with that attitude like, “Oh gosh, man, I hate doing this. I don’t like running in the cold.” And I don’t, I don’t like running in the cold, but I’ll tell you what I hate more than running in the cold and that’s failure.

Rich:

And so if I have to choose between failure or running in the cold, running in the cold is going to win every single day. And that’s just a metaphor that I use for my life whenever I think I don’t feel like doing something. It’s like, well, you know what? Failure’s an option, quitting’s an option. Why don’t you just quit instead? That’s a lot easier. And I’m like, “Yeah, but I don’t like quitting.” I don’t like quitting more than I don’t like the 5:00 AM club as much as I don’t like the 5:00 AM club. So get pushed into the necessity for having to get up at 5:00 AM, I would do it if I had to because well the opposition is just not not an option. Quitting is not an option.

Rich:

So I kind of mix that with the what you talk about with the attitude of gratitude, in that if I have to get up and run in the morning when it’s cold outside, I tell myself the only thing worse than doing this is not having the ability to run. If I had messed up my joints to the point where I could no longer run anymore, then it would be sad. I would it and think like, “Man, I would love to go for a jog.” Imagine me sitting here thinking I would love to just go for a 5K. I would love to run a marathon. To be so deprived of running that you would love to run a marathon. I think a lot of people can actually relate to that now. There are probably a lot of people in this world who, for example, like to sit around on their couch and watch Netflix. Now we’re in the middle of this pandemic, and everybody’s quarantined, and everybody is getting to the point where they’re just about Netflixed out, and people are sitting there thinking like, “God, I would just love to go outside.”

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:52:04]

Rich Franklin:

And people are sitting there thinking like, “God, I would just love to go outside. I don’t care that it’s a hundred degrees outside, I’m going to sweat my butt off. I’d rather be outside today.” And so it’s all about your perspective, and how you look at things. Do I lose motivation at times? Absolutely. But the opposite, quitting is just not an option, so it always wins.

Brian:

Now, you talked about quitting is not an option, and failure is not an option. But when you’re 13 years old skiing down a hill and you break an arm, it’s no big deal. You get back up and try the next trick. Well, Rich, talking about broken arms leads us to our next question that comes in from Chap. Chap wanted to know at UFC 115, June, 2010 you’re fighting on another Hall of Famer in Chuck Liddell, and you break your arm in that first round with a leg kick and come back, knock out a roll.

Rich Franklin:

I didn’t break my arm. Chuck broke my arm. Just for the record.

Brian:

So Chuck breaks your arm. Thank you. So it’s just right. It’s like getting hit with a baseball bat in the forearm. Take us back through, you get a broken arm and you come back to knock out one of the greatest of all time.

Rich Franklin:

Well, it’s interesting that match, when he kicked my arm, I thought man, this is so stupid. I just remember standing there and just, I didn’t block that kick properly. I didn’t defend against it. And there’s a proper way to do that, and I didn’t shock absorb it and move with the kick. I just stuck my arm out there and obviously, the tibia is a much stronger, thicker bone than the ulna and the, it came in and just crashed through and broke that ulna. And I remember as soon as it happened, you can rewatch the match and I’m shaking.

Rich Franklin:

You’ll see me shake my fist, like something wasn’t right. And, and then, I can feel the pain immediately but it’s not a terrible pain because you have a lot of adrenaline going on, but you can feel pain like, “Mmm, that doesn’t feel right.” And so, I’m shaking out my hand, shaking out my hand, and then I throw a punch. And when I throw a punch at him with that hand, I can feel the bones in the hand go, like click, click, Or not the hand, but the, the arm, the bottom of the forearm there. And when I felt that click click, it was a familiar feeling before, because I had broken my hand several years prior to that on David Loiseau’s head, I broke my second metacarpal in my left hand.

Rich Franklin:

And every time I threw a punch I could feel that bone going, click, click, click, click. So I knew right away that the arm was broken and my mindset, it’s interesting how your mind will suddenly change. And you know, Brian, I talked to you about this the other day about how a mindset can go from a growth mindset to a fixed mindset. And my mindset in this match immediately just like that went from growth to fixed, because I suddenly thought instead of how do I win this match or me winning this match or what I need to do, I was thinking, how do I survive this round so that I can go to my corner, and let my corner know that my arm is broken so that they can tell me how to win the match, as if they were going to have this magic recipe for, “Okay, you have a broken arm. Here’s the broken arm game plan. We didn’t share it with you during camp, but this is what we’re going to do now.”

Rich Franklin:

And so I went to this fixed mindset. There was a point in time actually where, where Chuck took me down in the match and I was against the cage and there’s this move that I do when I’m on the bottom of the guard, and I stand up and I stand up really effectively. It’s a bread and butter move that I do. And I typically only do it to one side, and I posted out with my arm, my broken arm. And when I posted out to try to stand up, my arm just folded on me. I had to go to the other side to do this because I couldn’t post on my left arm. And when I posted on my right arm, actually getting up, I kind of, I left myself exposed.

Rich Franklin:

And fortunately I didn’t end up in a choke or getting kneed in the face or anything like that. It really was sloppy technique when I look at it and assess it. But I got back to my feet. And you quickly realize like, look, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if this arm is broken or not. You’re in a dog fight here. And this is just a great metaphor for life. When something happens unexpectedly to you, and you have to deal with a whole different set of problems that you thought you were going to have to deal with, the world keeps spinning and things keep coming at you. And you better learn how to, pun intended here, roll with the punches and keep moving forward because if not, if you don’t have that grit, you’re going to fold.

Rich Franklin:

And that’s what happened in this match. And even though my arm is broken, I keep throwing punches with it. And eventually the training that we did paid off actually because I was working with my boxing coach on that match, and we had worked a specific combination where Chuck tends to over pursue once he thinks he has, or he has somebody hurt. And he had landed a combination, or landed a punch and thought that he rocked me and I was stepping backwards to evade some punches. But I was fine. And then he started to over pursue and then I landed that overhand right. And it went all back to the routines that we did where we worked this dumping over hand right over and over.

Rich Franklin:

We worked with so many times that I was actually training and I remember my coach holding pads one day, and he throws the pad up for me to hit this overhand right again. And I looked at him like, “Rob, man, I’m sick of throwing this punch.” And he literally smacked me in the face with the pad and said, “Throw the punch.” And that was the punch that ended up winning the match for me. So it all goes back to that, and just not letting yourself get sidetracked. And even in those moments where your confidence is broken, you need to go back to your initial thoughts. And this comes back to the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts that we’ve done, that we’ve been into before, and just continuing to move forward.

Brian:

You had this grave look on your face. What was going through your mind at the time?

Rich Franklin:

I’ve, I was just happy to fight was over because I knew my arm was broken in the fight, and I definitely wasn’t going to quit. I’ve broken bones before and continued fighting. But there was part of me that was wondering how it was going to be able to, what kind of strategy I was going to use to win the fight with a broken left arm in the second and third round.

Brian:

Yeah. I want to make sure we definitely get to talking about awareness, the signal lights. But before we go to there, you talked about Rob, your boxing coach, and how you were hoping to get back to the corner so they could give you the broken arm game plan. But how he also hit you in the face with the pad to say, “Hey man, we’re working on this overhead right.” And he’s also talked you into making sure you go and sign all those autographs in Germany while you was eating your filet minion on the second floor.

Brian:

But when you look at your coaches that you’ve had in MMA and you’ve worked with some great ones, what’s the mental attitude? Ronald asked a question. What’s the mental attitude that you value the most in your MMA coaches?

Rich Franklin:

Oh man. I don’t know because look, this is not a sport where you’re playing a football and you have a head coach. When I was in Cincinnati, I had Mike, my conditioning coach, Jorge Gurgel my jujitsu coach, Rob Bradford is my boxing coach, Neil Rowe, my kickboxing coach. Later on I started working with Ryan Rood as a wrestling coach, and then of course you and I worked together in mental performance. And then when I was up in Seattle, I had Joel Jameson work in my strength conditioning up there, and Matt Hume. And all these people, they all bring different aspects to the game.

Rich Franklin:

For example, I look at the two strength and conditioning coaches I work with. Joel is very scientific with the way that he approaches things, and at the time he and I were working together and he was using his eight weeks out program. And we were using recovery systems, and things were computerized and data was tracked and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

Whereas with Mike, Mike is one of those just hardcore grit and training kind of guys. And even though he’s not using a computer, he’s been in the game so long when it comes to conditioning and lifting and things like that, that he probably knows how to analyze things. And he knew me as an athlete so well that he didn’t need data. He knew right away if I’d been over training, if he needed to back off, if we needed to take a day off or whatever. And I think that the thing that I probably value the most about the mental aspect of most collectively as my coaches, is that my coaches were all thinkers like I was. Particularly in their respective arts, but they were all always trying to reassess and you know, build their skillset so to speak, and make themselves better.

Rich Franklin:

Some of my coaches like Neil, my kickboxing coach was also a good training partner of mine. And he was always looking not only how do I build my skillset as a training partner, but how do I build my skillset as a coach. And those two things sometimes would intertwine so that it would benefit me. And so this thinking strategy that I had as a very cerebral athlete tended to be the same way that all my coaches were about their strategies. And this is independently of each other. They didn’t have this sit down powwow with each other and say, “Okay, here’s the thinking strategy we need to implement.” But when I was with my boxing coach, the strategy was a very thinking strategy. When I, with Matt in Seattle, the strategy was a very thinking man strategy.

Rich Franklin:

We would break things down, and look at where we needed to build things. And it was that way across the board. And I think that that’s what I really appreciate and value the most about all my coaches.

Brian:

You know, if we can cut the transmission from this concept and talking about the career and try to laser in for, I think something that our audience is really wanting to know from Rich Franklin’s perspective is talking about the mental game. Can you kind of take us all the way back to how did we meet, and what’s kind of your first remembrance of an exposure to mental performance in some of our training and how this whole thing got started of you working with a mental performance coach?

Rich Franklin:

Let me just say it’s weird how the brain works because, Brian, when I was training in karate, I was the top dog at the dojo and like a big fish in a small pond, so to speak.

Rich Franklin:

And this really breeds this sense of confidence. And when I look at myself at that point in time, the present day me looking back at the young 19 year old me, I’m thinking, “Man, what a false sense of confidence you had.” Because really, I did not have the combative skills that I needed at the time. We were a very hard nosed karate school, and in terms of those kinds of schools I would put our people up against any other school in the world.

Rich Franklin:

But as it applies to just overall combat, I look back and I think like, “Oh Lord, I was so confident.” I just did not even question my ability. And then time goes on. This confidence continues, continues, continues. And I think where I probably had the first little kink in the armor of my confidence was my second or third amateur bout where I was competing against this guy, and I and kicked this guy in the jaw and broke his jaw in several different places.

Rich Franklin:

And when I looked at him I thought, “wow, I could be on the receiving end of that, had I made a mistake in this match. Like this is really what could happen.” And I started understanding the, I don’t want to say, it’s not the severity of the injuries, but what’s really at stake. And I’m not talking about health, I’m just talking about winning and losing, and what can possibly happen, success and failure. But that was on the winning end of something like that. And that’s where I really started thinking about things. Still still uber confident, but as you start realizing like, “Oh, eyeballs are on me.” Like the story that I told earlier with the name of the show was Full Contact Fighter because that was the clothing label that Joe Gold owned at the time.

Rich Franklin:

When I start thinking about that show and what I heard, and suddenly the pressure that I felt because all these eyeballs were on me. And the interesting thing about confidence is that when people are confident, man, you should hear me sing in the shower. I am amazing. I probably deserve a Grammy. I’m not kidding man. It’s, it’s something to hear. But then suddenly if I’m singing karaoke for example, in front of a large crowd, you’re going to get a much different performance because it’s just for some reason between the shower and the karaoke stage, that Grammy ability goes somewhere. And this confidence, you suddenly lack this confidence because eyeballs are on you, and people are going to judge you and whatnot. And this is your perception. And you learn at the end of the day that really the worst critic in the world, particularly when you’re competing, I always say that my worst critic is myself. It’s the man in the mirror at the end of the day.

Rich Franklin:

Because at the end of the day, if I’m not happy with my performance, or I didn’t do well or whatever, I’m really hard on myself. Way harder than the fans were, ever. And so I don’t understand how this perception of judgment or fear of judgment or whatever these outside factors suddenly can affect your confidence. But it starts to mess with you. And there’s all this outside messaging coming in, whatever it is, what journalists are writing, or what fans are saying on social media or message boards or any of that kind of stuff. And you’re getting all this input. And so you have to be able to shut all those kinds of things off.

Rich Franklin:

And you and I started working together, it was between my first loss to Anderson and my second loss to Anderson. And I really had my confidence shaken after the Anderson match, the first one obviously. Because it was just, the whole approach to that match and everything leading into it is a whole different conversation. But after losing a match like that, it’s going to mess with your confidence. I can remember that my next match was Jason McDonald and it was in Columbus, Ohio. So I was competing in my home state at the time. And I had a good performance, but I can just remember being in the cage, and I can remember when I was slipping punches, I was moving extra, and just had this fidgety movement, and I wasn’t being efficient the way that I normally would.

Rich Franklin:

And it probably is undetectable to most people watching the match. But I knew it. I knew the feeling that I felt mentally, and I knew the performance that I had physically. And this was the man in the mirror at the end of the night saying like, “Man, Rich, what’s going on? Why are you questioning yourself?” And after you come off of a match like Anderson, and I had my nose smashed, you’re a bit reluctant to start putting your face in front of somebody punches.

Rich Franklin:

And so I won that match, and then you and I started working together and I realized that I had some stuff, I guess I didn’t know it at the time, I didn’t know this phrase, but I had some massive yellow, and probably a lot of red light thoughts at the time. And so when I talked to you, when we started working together, the thing that we talked about, that was one of the first concepts we talked about was the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts.

Rich Franklin:

And it was interesting. And something we talked about the other day is how at the time I just wanted you to make that stuff go away. Essentially, I was just like, “Brian, make me confident again, and get rid of all this doubt, the self doubt that I have. I got to get rid of this. So just tell me what I need to do. I’ll read a book, I’ll say my mantra, I’ll, whatever, I can hum, whatever I need to do, just tell me, and I’ll burn some incense. I don’t know.”

Rich Franklin:

And it doesn’t work that way unfortunately. And so what you had taught me at the time was that “Hey, here are the signals that you got going on.” And prior to a match like that, I wasn’t always green, but I was let’s say 90, 95% green with some yellows and the occasional red.

Rich Franklin:

And then after that I’m starting to notice these red light thoughts. So you and I working together, suddenly it’s like instead of making these things go away, we learned how to identify them, and we identify when we’re in the yellow zone rather than in the red zone. Before we get to the red zone, not saying that it still never happened, but you identify it much earlier, and you turn your thought process around.

Rich Franklin:

Instead of letting yourself drift down this path of self doubt, to the point where you’re so deep in a hole that you can’t hardly dig yourself back out of it, is you recognize yourself as you’re starting to step in the hole and say, “Let me step around this hole. Let me change direction here. Let me get myself back on track.” Because once again, going back to what I said before, is those thoughts, those thoughts will, suddenly they creep into your routines, and your actions and they’ll start reinforcing all your technique, and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

Now you’re starting to execute things with self doubt. And so, if you don’t recognize that immediately it can really infect your entire game. And so that’s one of the things that we had. And I think that for us, you and I particularly working together on the Travis Looter match. When people ask me what one of my favorite matches is in my career, I always say the Travis Looter match because it was my worst winning performance. There was a moment in time in that match where I mentally broke and I talked about that particular match in depth in my Ted Talk. But we prepped for this thing and we nailed the prep down. Travis did exactly what we thought he was going to do, but I just failed an execution the whole way through.

Rich Franklin:

I failed in every step of execution to the point where I got mounted. And even when we were in camp, my coaches said if he mounts you, Matt told me, “If he mounts you, the fight’s over. Don’t get mounted.” We didn’t even work mount escapes for that because we did everything we needed to do to prevent getting mounted. Getting mounted wasn’t even an option. So when I ended up on the bottom side of the mount in that match, I had mentally broke for a moment.

Rich Franklin:

And then I told myself like, “Well wait a minute, what are you doing? And much as the same when I was in the Chuck Liddell match, I had to get myself back on track. And so I turned myself back around in that match. And then I was able to escape the arm bar from the bottom side and I come back and won. But it was my worst winning performance. But I think had you and I not done the work together that we had done, when I hit those red light thoughts when I was laying on my back in the middle of that cage, I probably would not have been able to escape the red light thoughts, and I wouldn’t have won that match.

Brian:

Yeah. I think something else, that kind of concept that people can grab what you’re saying here is really learning how to talk to yourself, and not listen. I think when you listen, and we’re all going to have that little voice of self doubt, we’re all going to have that little voice of “Do I really want to go through this, do I want to push anymore?” But you learn how to talk yourself through that. Is that something that you feel like you’ve gotten better at with experience and age?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I do. The thing, Brian, as you asked me this question, I started thinking about how these concepts that you and I have worked on apply to my personal life. Because I think initially I was really good at applying these things to my professional life. One in particular was, and I did this well before you and I worked together, but I got even better at it when we worked together, and the Travis Looter example is a perfect example of that, is viewing obstacles as opportunities.

Rich Franklin:

In this world there are certain people that just… I always say this, I think I was just born this way, that if my mom, when I was a two year old kid, said to me, “No cookies.” And she took the cookie jar and put it on top of the refrigerator, I would have been the kind of kid that walked into the kitchen and saw that cookie jar on the top of the refrigerator and been like, “Huh, how do I get cookies out of that thing?” And I would have figured out a way to climb myself all the way up on top of that refrigerator to get those cookies.

Rich Franklin:

There are other people in this world who as a kid they would look and say, “Oh, the cookie jar is on top of the fridge. So I guess I can’t have any cookies now.” And they view obstacles as obstacles. And I think that we’re maybe, I don’t know, born that way with a certain preset amount of that. And you can train this and hone in on it. But I’ve always been the kind of person that’s viewed obstacles as opportunities. Particularly when it comes to competition. And I think that it’s not something that I necessarily applied to my personal life as well as I did my competitive life, because in my competitive life I have this grit.

Rich Franklin:

I will walk through brick walls in order to accomplish my goal or win, or succeed or whatever I need to do. But in your personal life with little things, you’ll get frustrated by these obstacles rather than saying, “Okay, this is an opportunity for me to do whatever.” You know, when I’m mounted against one of the best grapplers in the world, this is an opportunity for me to showcase or work a different kind of armbar escape. And I didn’t have that kind of mentality in my personal life. And so there was this ability for me to, to think about this, and probably something I’m still working on to be real honest, as a human being. But applying this philosophy of obstacles or opportunities, and you need to view it that way in your personal life as well, so that you can always maintain, for example, an attitude of gratitude.

Rich Franklin:

Did I actually fully answer the question that you asked?

Brian:

Yeah, I think so. I think to kind of come back to it, it would be a question that Mark submitted where he said, “Rich, when was the first time that you realized that the mental performance training that you’re doing with Brian was actually working? And then was there one technique, like you’ve talked about signal lights, you’ve talked about self-talk, was there one sort of exercise that you would do as part of a training program?” And I think what you’ll probably talk about is mental imagery and visualization, or listening to the audio is when you’re doing road work. But if you can kind of talk about one, when was there a point where you said, “Wow, this mental performance training is actually working.” And then two, what were some of those things that you did in the training process?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I’ll go back to this Brian. I think that that moment on my back in the Looter match that I was talking about before is the moment where I really realized it was working. Now I’ll say this, the caveat is that I probably realized the mental performance training was working well before that, during my actual process of getting ready for the match. But that memory is so burnt into my head that that’s where I really realized like, “Oh, this is working.” And not only is it working during the process, but it’s actually working in a real life application, during the match itself. That’s where that really sticks in my head.

Rich Franklin:

And you’re right. If I had to choose one aspect of the mental performance training that you and I did, other than identifying the green light, yellow light, red light thoughts, being aware of that and learning how to turn that around, and a lot of that comes with understanding your circle of control.

Rich Franklin:

That was a big one for me because, going back to the original reason why I came to you is I just wanted to make those red light thoughts go away completely. And a lot of that was understanding what is actually in your circle of control. But as far as I guess skills, or whatever or drills, then I would have to say it would be the imagery and visualization. And that was something that I carried through, and I still use to this day. Anytime I’m doing something particularly that I think I may be nervous about doing, or where I feel like failure is, I don’t know, a possible outcome or something like that, is I like to visualize things.

Rich Franklin:

Because when I was getting ready for a match, we took it so far as to, when I was preparing for the competition, on Saturdays those were our full go sparring days. I would come into the gym, I would walk into the locker room, I would get stretched out by my coaches, prep, all that stuff. Just everything would be set up exactly like the day of the match, and we would walk out, we would play my music, and we would do everything as if it was a match. And there were sessions like that where we were, I guess that’s kind of a form of visualization because you’re mimicking the day of.

Rich Franklin:

But we also did the visualization at the end of the training sessions where I would lay there and go through the match, everything from arriving in the locker room, all the way through to walking out, to getting introduced, to the hand raised and all that kind of stuff.

Rich Franklin:

And then of course you were in my locker room, and you had recorded all those locker room sounds and the walkout and me getting introduced and getting into the cage. And so I would go through these imagery and visualization exercises where I would picture myself not just succeeding in the match, but sometimes failing in the match as well. And having to overcome, and this was something that I probably learned from the Looter fight is like, “Hey, even if you visualize everything in a scenario, not everything you visualize is going to play out exactly the way you visualize it.” You’re still going to have little failures here and there and you can’t let those little failures suddenly put you in a red light thought system where you’re afraid to pull the trigger now. I would even visualize myself failing at techniques, and getting taken down when I was defending it, but being able to get back to my feet, and being able to fix whatever went wrong if something went wrong.

Rich Franklin:

So that when I was actually in the match, I wasn’t just prepared to execute a winning strategy, but I was prepared to be able to recourse myself and execute other technique if things didn’t go exactly the way I had, I guess technically quote/unquote visualized it unfolding. That was probably the most useful technique that you and I had because there were times where you and I would do phone calls, and I was sitting in my office and I would shut down the lights and I can remember, distinctly remember sitting in my office chair at my desk there talking to you on the phone.

Rich Franklin:

I can remember doing these things the week of training where I would lay down on the mats, and you would run me through this stuff with quiet sounds, and all that kind of stuff. I can remember doing it with my coaches, and you helping my coaches so that they knew how to talk to me after the matches. And I can remember being in the school, laying on the mats when I was prepping and kicking the lights out in the school so that we could lay there and do the visualization process.

Speaker 4:

Attention athletes, coaches-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:18:04]

Rich Franklin:

… lay there and do the visualization process.

Brian:

Attention athletes, coaches and parents of athletes. Mental performance is the key to unlocking unshakable confidence, forging unbreakable mental toughness and gaining an almost unfair edge over the competition. So why are so many athletes leaving their mental performance training up to chance? And why are so many coaches flat out ignoring it? Look, if you’re an athlete and you know you can perform at a higher level than you currently are, but you’re not sure what’s missing, or if you’re a coach or parent who’s tired of seeing your athletes fall short of their potential because they lack confidence or mental toughness and you’re looking for a step-by-step program that they can use to master the mental game, you’re in exactly the right place.

Brian:

I’m Brian Cain, world renowned mental performance coach, and I’ve had the privilege to work with Olympic athletes, MMA world champions, major league baseball Cy Young Award Winners, and Heisman trophy winners on closing the gap from where they were to where they wanted to be in mental performance. And now, with my 30 days to mental performance mastery for athletes program, you can get the same training that helped these world champions close the gap from where they were to where they wanted to be and needed to be to win. Head over to briancain.com and click on athletes to get started today.

Brian:

Being at a time, this is back in the two thousands when you were doing this, and was this something that when you first got introduced to it you were like, man, this is like Disneyland or what is this mental performance? Because man, we didn’t start working together until probably 2006, 2007?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah.

Brian:

Or was it something where at that time you were still even open to it? Because I think now in 2020, people are open to mental performance training, but I think they’re open to it because of guys like you talking about the impact that it had on your career while you were doing it.

Rich Franklin:

For sure. At the time, again, I’m going to put myself back into that mindset. Clearly I was open to doing this because you and I had worked together, but it seemed so weird to me because, for whatever reason in this society, it’s one thing to admit, hey, I need to improve my boxing skill, so I am going to hire this boxing coach. But hey, I need to improve my confidence or my mental strategy, so I’m going to hire this mental performance coach.

Rich Franklin:

Particularly for me, because I mean, think about this, I’m a very cerebral fighter, and my background is in education. I’m a teacher. I’m a math teacher at that, and so, everything has a logical process. I use deductive reasoning skills and I’ve used all these kinds of skills that I’m just naturally good at and have been educated in to help me succeed, both as an athlete and as an executive. I mean, the mental pillar is part of one of the things that I’m good at. And so, to swallow a piece of that humble pie and say, yeah, I think I need a little help here, particularly when you’re so many years into a career where that wasn’t something that you needed, is a tough thing to do.

Rich Franklin:

But make no mistake about it, the reason why I think I was open to it is because I was always the kind of athlete that when I was doing karate initially, when I first started training and I was doing karate, like I said, I was the top dog at my dojo. And then my instructor’s son came home and I can remember sparring him and being in a cat stance with my traditional open hand technique and getting kicked in the thigh by my buddy, Sean, and landing a traditional round kick, thigh kick to my leg and man, when he hit me with that first kick, I’d never been hit like that before. What the heck? And immediately, instead of being proud and saying, “Well, wait a minute, I’m the top dog at this school. Nobody gets away with that.” I immediately looked at him, I said, “Teach me.”

Rich Franklin:

And so, I’ve always had this ability to, like I said, eat a little bit of that humble pie and take a step back and rewire yourself. But when it comes to confidence and things like that, it’s pretty difficult to do, especially at that time in history, hate to use that word makes me sound old, but at that point time where this was not something that people talked about, top level athletes talked about, and so, even though I walked out for every match, I was going into the arenas every match scared to death, I didn’t know that other athletes felt that way, not just fighters, but also every athlete. Not just athletes, people that are giving public speeches.

Rich Franklin:

And I learned that again when I did my Ted talk. Lord have mercy, I feel worse here than I did when I was actually competing for a title or something like that. And so, what you learn is that, anybody in this world who is putting their reputation on the line, it doesn’t matter what your discipline is, it doesn’t matter if you’re an executive and you’re trying to seal some commercial deals, if you’re a CEO of a company, if you’re a musician, if you’re some sort of performing arts, a ballerina, an athlete, I don’t care. When you put yourself on the line and you’re going to extend yourself out into a public forum where people can scrutinize and judge you and you’re willing to say, this is my art, this is my skill, this is what I’m good at, and I’m going to do it better than everybody else and I’m here to prove it.

Rich Franklin:

And when you do that, when you’re the person that does that, you’re going to feel some insecurities creep in here and there. And if you don’t know how to deal with that stuff, the mental game can be the thing that crushes you. And then in my industry, we call those people gym warriors. These are guys that, when nothing’s on the line and they’re in the gym, they’re killers. And I think, man, I would not want to run into this person in the cage except for once they step into the arena for competition, they mentally fold.

Brian:

Yeah, and I think you see that all the time where, you’re not going to rise to the occasion, you’re going to sink through your training, and I think the higher you go in levels of competition, the more and more mental performance training becomes important because everyone has the physical training. When you were looking at your last 10 fights, you were fighting guys who were number one through four in the world and every single one of those, call them last 15 fights of your career, essentially every fight in the UFC from Ken Shamrock to Khan Lee, every guy that you fought was in the top five at the time in the weight class. So when you’re fighting at that level, what difference does mental performance training make if you have it and the opponent doesn’t?

Rich Franklin:

Oh, it can be a huge difference. Look, I used an illustration in my Ted talk talking about, it was 2012 I believe, it’s been a while, so I haven’t brushed up on this story, but it’s the 2012 men’s speed skating event, 500 meter men’s speed skating event. I can’t remember the name of the three competitors, but all three competitors were from the same country, I believe Norway, I think. All three competitors were from the same country, trained at the same camp, and two of them were twin brothers, or at least they were brothers. I think they were twins. But when you look at the gold, silver and bronze medalists, all three of these guys, these were the gold, silver, and bronze medalists. And the difference between first place and second place was 1/100 of a second. That’s it. When you’re in a top level, it’s the difference between winning and losing. So when you talk about doing whatever it takes, you can train. Everybody trains, everybody trains hard, and most people they train smart, too. Some people train smarter than other people and that kind of veers into the mental performance side of things.

Rich Franklin:

But I always like listening to athletes. I particularly like listening to athletes when they lose. What are you going to do? Or when they interview a coach walking into the game at halftime, when he’s behind by 20 points, because this is a good indicator as to how the brain of that coach works. And you will overwhelmingly hear athletes when they lose say, well, I’m just going to have to get back to the gym and train harder. And I’m like, really? So you didn’t train hard enough for this match? Why did you sandbag if you know that if you sandbag, it’s going to produce the result you don’t want? Oh, you didn’t sandbag. So then how are you going to go back and train harder? Because you can’t. Because everybody goes into camp and they’re going to be giving a hundred percent basically every day. And if they’re not, that’s why they lost. And if they did, then that’s not why they lost, but they’re going to say, well, I just need to go back and train harder. And so when the reality is, is that you oftentimes need to take a step back and look at that mental performance and kind of realign things and train smarter, so to speak.

Brian:

Likewise, if you can train harder, why are you not? Or if you’re going to step up on fight night, why don’t you step up right now?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, exactly, and that’s what I’m saying. That’s why the point I was making was like, oh, you’re going to go back and train harder? Then why weren’t you giving a hundred percent in this camp? Oh, you did give a hundred percent. Well, then how are you going to go back and train harder? It’s like your reasoning doesn’t make sense there, unless you knew that you just had a bad camp and didn’t train the way that you should have, then that’s what you would say. But yeah, seeing people in their defeat is a good indicator as to how they’re going to reconstruct and rebuild.

Speaker 5:

And now, introducing the champion in the red corner. This man is a freestyle fighter who holds a professional record of 22 wins with one loss. Standing six feet one inch tall, weighing in at 185 pounds, fighting out of Cincinnati, Ohio, ladies and gentlemen, the defending UFC middleweight champion of the world, Rich “Ace” Franklin.

Brian:

One of the things I like to do on the podcast is put our guests in the hot seat and I’m going to give you a phrase and you’ve got to give me the first thing that comes to your mind. It’s rapid fire and I’m going to keep throwing them at you. So are you ready to get inside of the hot seat, Rich Franklin?

Rich Franklin:

Yeah.

Brian:

The next 200 feet.

Rich Franklin:

Oh, that’s the headlights man. That’s focus on what’s in front of you rather than what’s down the road, but that’s kind of cheating one, Brian, because this is a concept that you and I worked on about understanding what you got to do now, with what’s right in front of you rather than focusing on the end process. Driving down the road when it’s dark and your headlights only illuminate the next 200 feet, but if you’re trying to look out into, you’re not going to be able to see what’s out into the woods or what’s beyond that 200 feet or the deer running across the road. You’ve got to focus on what you can see.

Brian:

FedEx logo.

Rich Franklin:

We’ve done this one, too. It’s the arrow, man. Most people don’t see the arrow in the FedEx logo and I didn’t until you and I worked together and it’s about, some of those logos I did, like the Baskin Robbins. A lot of people don’t see the 31 in the Baskin Robbins and we’ve been through some of those things, but it’s about seeing things in a way you’ve never seen them before.

Brian:

Fear as fuel.

Rich Franklin:

Oh yeah, fear as fuel. Fear as fuel is one of those things that the first thing I think of is George Saint Pierre talking about the butterflies flying in formation. I heard him say that. I think that was actually at the Montreal post-fight press conference, when he said, “I had the butterflies and I just got to learn how to make my butterflies fly in formation.” And the whole point is that you’re never going to make the fear go away. I can remember when I was competing in Japan and Jeremy Horn, who was an athlete that had over a hundred matches at the time, I asked him, I said, “When does this fear go away?” And he says, “Well,” he said, “I don’t know, but when it does, I’ll let you know.” And I thought, oh, Lord. And I really thought that I would get to a point where I just wasn’t nervous about competing anymore. And so, hearing that and then hearing something like what George said, and all that kind of stuff, you realize that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Brian:

Comfortable with being uncomfortable. What a great concept for people to buy into. Talk about being uncomfortable. Talk about running to the roar.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah. This truly is one of those things that I think that, this probably would be a good mantra for my life. I’m comfortable being uncomfortable because I don’t understand, when you talk about fear as fuel, there’s a difference for me between fear fear, anxiety and I don’t know, reservations or something like that because I see people that are fear, like afraid of heights, to the point where they wouldn’t be able to say, jump off of a high dive at a pool literally, or they couldn’t climb up a ladder to get on their roof, or they can’t even walk across a glass bridge or something like that, or standing on my terrace and walk up to the edge of that and hold onto the railing and look over, and I don’t understand this concept of fear because it’s one of those things where I, in my mind, instead of being afraid, I do a calculated risk, I say, okay, well I know that this thing is constructed properly so I can walk up to this railing and hold onto it and I’m not going to fall off. I don’t have to worry about falling to my impending doom.

Rich Franklin:

And so instead of being afraid all the time, I use these things as a calculated risk so that I don’t let things shut me down from competing, but it’s going to create these feelings of uncomfortability. And so I just get comfortable being uncomfortable. I always use this example, if you’ve ever been driving down the road before and maybe an animal runs out in front of your car or a kid or something, I had a deer dart out in front of me on the road before and I almost hit a deer and you swerve really quick and you get that tingling sensation in your body because it’s this overload of adrenaline just immediately, and your body has this ability to almost like slow time down. You can see the deer, look in your rear view mirror, notice that there’s this car coming the other way so you can’t veer into the other lane and your mind is able to process all this stuff just in milliseconds. But somehow you miss this deer and you get around it and then that feeling immediately goes away again.

Rich Franklin:

And that’s one of those feelings for me and something that I learned from just competing as an athlete. That’s the feeling of being alive. You don’t feel that way all the time. You’re typically sitting at your desk pecking away on keys or you’re running a 5K and whatever it is that you’re doing, going about your daily stuff, but you don’t have this feeling of that feeling of being alive. And so for me, I thrive off of that. I don’t want to feel this way every single moment of my life, but I thrive off of these moments of standing at the top of a waterfall and going, wow, this is a little taller than I thought it was, but I’m going to go ahead and make this jump anyway and doing that jump.

Rich Franklin:

And so, I run to those kinds of things and I think that people that accomplish great things in life are the kind of people that are willing to do that, to go towards that stuff, running towards the roar rather than running away from it.

Brian:

That’s running towards the roar. We got just a couple more on the hot seat to wrap us up here, Rich. Talk about Welcome to the Jungle.

Rich Franklin:

Welcome to the Jungle is the walkout song that I used for my second match against Anderson Silva in Cincinnati. I changed my music up because it’s a Cincinnati song. They use it for the Bengals when they walk out. So, if you look at that match, I did a whole home hometown theme. I had the black and orange shorts. I veered from the brown and pink. I had a gray and scarlet T-shirt. That was my call callback to the Cincinnati Reds. They were the two home team athletic teams, and then I walked out to Welcome to the Jungle, which has kind of a hometown feel to it. So, anybody that was from Cincinnati knew what I was getting at with all that stuff.

Brian:

Speaking of getting after a hometown feel, February 21, 2006, Rich Franklin Day in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rich Franklin:

Man, Brian, I can barely remember my birthday anymore. I’m glad you told me what day that was, otherwise I would have been like, what’s February 21? No, I’m joking. But yeah, it’s interesting how things in your life happen to you that you never really like, they made a day out of me in Cincinnati, and I’m really actually struggling to put some words together here because I don’t-

Brian:

I figured you would be on that one. So let me give you one that’s a little bit easier, the Franklin Equation.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, well, we used to have a column on my website back in the day and I loved ghost writing some of these columns. I had somebody else who was helping me out with them, too. I don’t want to take full ownership of all those things, but it was really nice putting those thoughts together and I tell you what, the process of working with, it was a friend of mine, Tom, working on these Franklin Equations together as something that really gave me, I guess an interest in writing and stuff like that and just expressing your thoughts. So, I would say that that was probably the precursor really truly for me eventually doing my Ted talk as well.

Brian:

And I think, Frich, as I was saying, Franklin Rich, I think what you ought to do Rich is take the Franklin Equation and turn it into a book man because it was really good. I remember reading that and sharing it with high school athletes when I was a high school athletic director when we were working together. I think it was that good. Have you ever thought about putting it into a book?

Rich Franklin:

I haven’t. I think about books sometimes and Brian, I know that you’ve written so many books and man, it seems like so much work to do a book and so, you said something to me one time about the power of influence and all that kind of stuff, is one of these things that I’ve realized.

Rich Franklin:

I’ve always known this about myself. I’ve always known that I’ve had a platform, which is why when we told the story about the fan that I ran into at [inaudible 01:35:47] Falls outside of Sibu and the legacy that I left with him and all that kind of stuff. I’ve understood the power, that I have this influence, particularly with the words you speak and it doesn’t have to be an epic book that you necessarily write, but it can just be a simple statement that you make to somebody on a daily basis not realizing the impact you had on that person’s life or maybe not even that person’s life, maybe somebody else was sitting there and heard the thing you were saying to another individual and you impacted their life. You just don’t know.

Rich Franklin:

And so when it comes to writing a book and stuff like that, I sit and think about this all the time and almost, in my mind, I feel obligated at times that I have this ability to positively impact and influence the world and it’s something that I should be doing. So, maybe I’ll have to look at the Franklin Equations and look at turning that into a book.

Brian:

I know how much impact it had on me. I know how much impact it had on the students that I used to share it with, and I think, being able to go back and reflect on what you wrote and now turning that into a book would be an easier process than winning the MMA world championship. And I think just like many things in life, once you get that book done, you’ll look back and say, man, that was easier than I thought it would be.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, I’ll be saying that. This is the same thing I told myself after I did my first public speaking. It took forever to get me to speak publicly and then after I did, I was like, oh, this isn’t that bad, and now I kind of enjoy the process actually. So I’ll probably tell myself, why didn’t I write a book sooner, while I’m writing my seventh book or something.

Brian:

My last question for you on the hot seat is, what was it like hearing your father say that he was proud of you for chasing the dream?

Rich Franklin:

Best moment of my career right there. You have to fully understand the context of this thing to understand why it’s important to me, but I’m the only child in my family to obtain a college education. And so, my dad went back to school late in life. He and I graduated from university, I think we actually graduated the same year. Yeah, he graduated, because I was in a five year program so I ended up with two bachelor’s degrees, and we graduated the same year and I have this picture of he and I together on my graduation day, and he’s got his arm around me and he’s got this smile of like contentment on his face, like yeah, that’s my boy, kind of look. And he was super proud of me for graduating not only as a teacher, but with a math degree because my dad was not academic to say the least.

Rich Franklin:

He probably barely graduated high school. He was just one of those screw off students when he was a kid, and then later on in life in his mid thirties, he realized, hey, I want to do something better with my life. So he went back and earned himself a nursing degree. And here I am teaching and four years into my career, I decide that I’m just going to walk away from this profession and pursue this career in mixed martial arts, which at the time wasn’t even an established industry. For me to say, I’m going to go try out for an NFL team and see if I can make the team, that’s different because at least, if you make the team like, yeah, look, my son made it to the NFL but this, this was still banned in 48 States.

Rich Franklin:

And so, my dad, when I told him that I was quitting my job as a teacher, in his mind it was just me throwing away my education. And the day that I told him this, he looked at me as if I just had given him the worst news ever. I think actually, I jokingly say this, I think my dad would have punched me if I was not a professional fighter. Not really, but I always joke around about that.

Rich Franklin:

But fast forward and several years later, my dad is in Las Vegas watching me defend my title for the first time and I met up with him at the Luxor because the event was at Mandalay Bay? No, MGM that time. So I met him at the Luxor, it was the night before my weigh in and he was having dinner and I was probably eating ice chips or something like that. And he looked at me and he said, “Man, I’m really proud of you for following your dreams and pursuing something that you wanted to do and just relentlessly pushing forward.” Kind of that message, how proud of me he was that I didn’t fold to doing whatever everybody else does in life, taking the easy route, and I knew this, but that moment to me was way more important, way, way, way more important than any title I ever won. Truly.

Brian:

Well, Rich, man, you’re off the hot seat now and I want to thank you for being a part of the Brian Cain podcast and for taking the time out of your crazy schedule and getting up super early over there in Singapore to be able to join us and do this, and for the listeners, if they’ve got questions or they’re fans and they want to follow you and keep track of your escapades as you go around the world representing one championship and following what you’re doing and checking out your show, what’s the best way for them to stay engaged with what Rich Franklin’s doing?

Rich Franklin:

Probably my social media. You can check me out. My Facebook is Rich Franklin. I think Twitter is also Rich Franklin and then the Instagram is at Rich Ace Franklin on Instagram. They’re all verified accounts so when you look it up you’ll know it’s me. But yeah, typically posting messages of positivism out there. Things about nutrition, lifestyle, motivation, working out, what I got going on with the ONE Warrior Series, my travels and all my recruitment process and all that kind of stuff. Now, of course that’s kind of shut down at the moment and we’re all in quarantine. But like I said before, I don’t view this obstacle in life is an obstacle. It’s an opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to launch my Franklin Speaking podcast and get that up and rolling, man. So, onward and upward.

Brian:

And it’s an opportunity for you to write the Franklin Equation.

Rich Franklin:

Yeah, yeah.

Brian:

I look forward to seeing that coming out, Rich.

Rich Franklin:

I’m going to be pecking away at my computer when we get off here and see if I have those files on my computer, if I got to find them on some other hard drive.

Brian:

I’m going to have to go back and redo the intro, man. Not only is he a UFC world champion and a Hall of Famer, he’s also a bestselling author of the Franklin Equation. Rich Franklin, thanks for joining us on the Brian Cain podcast, man. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Rich Franklin:

Been awesome, brother, thanks for having me on.

Brian:

Thank you, man. Thank you for listening to the Brian Cain Mental Performance Mastery Podcast on the Ironclad Content Network. If you liked this show, be sure to leave us a rating and a review and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter @BrianCainPeak.

 

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