Fighter Rich Franklin ready to rumble at UFC Macao
Former world middleweight champion Rich "Ace" Franklin will put friendship aside to compete against Cung Le in the main event of Saturday's UFC extravanganza in Macau.
The 38-year-old American said in Hong Kong yesterday it would be the third time he had fought a friend in the Octagon.
But he added that it would not stop him in the five-round middleweight fight - the star attraction of the 10-bout card at the Cotai Arena.
"Right now, I have Cung Le on my radar and he's my primary goal. It's interesting because Cung and I are friends outside the ring. I think people wouldn't understand that it doesn't take much for two people to hate each other in the Octagon.
"But we're here to put on a good show and make fans happy. I'll be ready for whatever Cung throws at me," said Franklin, who hails from Cincinnati, Ohio.
"My preparations have gone really well. I'm ahead of schedule. Right now, I'm at the point where I'm putting the finishing touches [to training].
"We only came in last night and we spent the past couple of weeks training in Singapore. We have had great reception in Singapore, Taiwan and now Hong Kong. There's a lot of excitement in the air for this," Franklin said.
Le, meanwhile, said he was fit and ready after recovering from a foot injury sustained during his unanimous Las Vegas UFC win over Patrick Cote in July.
"It was a deep bone bruise and the doctor said I would be out between six to eight weeks. I have made it here, I feel 100 per cent and I'm ready," said Le.
Le, who was born in south Vietnam but now lives in San Jose, California, also recently finished shooting The Man With the Iron Fists, an action movie that also stars Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. But the 40-year-old action star insists he has no intention of hanging up his gloves to pursue a Hollywood career.
"I enjoy competition and I am a martial artist before I am an actor. As long as I can compete, I will compete and when it's time, I will hang it up, but not right now because this is the main event. I'm excited to be part of this event," said Le.
Mark Fischer, executive vice-president and managing director of UFC Asia, said the eyes of the world would be on Macau on Saturday. He expects the event to be a sell-out. "We are headed for a sell-out," he said.
"We will have a star-studded audience as [action stars] Donnie Yen [Ji-dan] and Daniel Wu [Yin-cho] will also be in attendance."