BELFAST, Northern Ireland – When Rich Franklin got in from a workout Thursday, he had a meal he prepared for himself consisting of ground chicken, ground turkey, broccoli and dry oatmeal.
When he left a news conference later in the day, he ate a concoction of ground chicken, ground turkey, broccoli and dry oatmeal. For dinner, he had ground chicken, ground turkey, broccoli and dry oatmeal.
He had the same thing on June 3 and May 26 and, he says, chuckling, six times a day for every day of his training camp.
It's part of what the ex-UFC middleweight champion calls a scientific approach to nutrition and cutting weight.
Franklin, who fights Yushin Okami in a three-round bout at UFC 72 Saturday at the Odyssey Arena with a shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva on the line, leaves little to chance in his pre-fight preparations.
A one-time high school math teacher who has a Bachelor's degree in mathematics and a Master's degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, Franklin records even the most obscure details of his day in a journal in the final 30 days prior to a fight.
He knows what he weighs at all times – he said he'll go to bed Thursday weighing 192 and will wake up on Friday at 191 – and records it religiously in his book. He'll need to lose six more pounds to make the division's 185-pound limit, which he knows will mean a hour-long stay in the sauna Friday morning.
The journal provides him a comfort factor because, like most fighters, he says that making weight is the worst part of the job.
"No matter which way you go about it, cutting weight is not an easy thing," Franklin said. "There is nothing that I do that makes it easier. But what I do is I've brought it down to a fine science. I know where I'm going to be, when I'm going to be there and how much time it's going to take me and how tough it's going to be."
When he's preparing for a fight, Franklin cooks for himself, carefully measuring his foods. He does it all on Sunday night and saves the food for the rest of the week. He insists the unusual combination of food tastes good, but said he does it simply to save time.
"The trick is being able to eat it six times a day and I do, because it's not bad at all," Franklin said. "It's either do this or spend 10 times the amount of time making all these different kinds of food.
"I'm not exactly a Rachael Ray in the kitchen, you know?"
And he's not chopped liver in the Octagon.
Franklin is 23-2 and one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts. He's 8-1 in the UFC and coming off an impressive victory over Jason MacDonald in front of an adoring home state crowd in Columbus, Ohio.
But Franklin, 32, knows he's going to be haunted by that one UFC loss, at least until he avenges it. He lost his belt to Silva in a surprising first-round stoppage on Oct. 14, 2006.
He hears about that loss a lot more than his many wins. It comes up even when he's discussing the hero's welcome he received at UFC 68 in Columbus, a bout which set a North American mixed martial arts attendance record by drawing a crowd of 19,079.
"No matter what I do, I'll always be answering questions about the Anderson Silva loss," Franklin said.
If he thought he put those questions in the past by pounding MacDonald, he was sadly mistaken.
The first question he received at a news conference Thursday was about Silva. It's clearly tiresome to him, but he's prepared for it to go on a long time.
"All the time, it's 'OK, Rich, you've had a win, now let's go back and revisit your loss. How come this? How come that? Yada, yada, yada, ' " he said. "It's the same stuff. The questions I'm getting asked now are the same questions I was getting asked six months ago. The only difference is now I have a win in between."
He was to have fought Martin Kampmann on Saturday, but Kampmann was injured while wrestling in training with Tyson Griffin.
The UFC replaced Kampmann with Okami, who was stellar in a victory over Mike Swick at UFC 69 in April. Okami also has impressive wins over Rory Singer, Alan Belcher and Kalib Starnes.
"That wasn't the most exciting news I've ever received," Franklin said of learning his opponent would be Okami.
What should excite him is the prospect of being able to eat something other than a hash of ground chicken, ground turkey, broccoli and oatmeal come Sunday morning.
But Franklin insists he's got no complaints.
"I promise you, the food that I make actually tastes good to me," Franklin said. "I mix dry oatmeal in my food and those people who see me eat it, they look at me and they go, 'Are you crazy? Are you serious?' But I always tell them, 'If I make this for you and you taste it, you'll look at me and say, 'It's pretty good. It's not that bad.'
"Everybody I've done that for has said the same thing.
"It's not too bad. It's part of the job. I'm not complaining."
- Rich Franklin
- Anderson Silva
- Yushin Okami