It's never easy to match a fighter with a unique skill set. Just ask Rashad Evans and the other opponents Lyoto Machida faced.
That's why John Franchi is taking no chances, when he trains for his fight with Manny Gamburyan at WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber II. He's brought in numerous guys who can match Gamburyan's judo and other elements of his game.
And so far, Franchi hasn't been disappointed by how his training partners have done.
"I sat down and watched the tapes with them. They did a great job and I feel like I’m completely prepared," Franchi (5-0) said. "I feel like they pushed me. I’ve done actual fights with people imitating his style. We've been breaking it down in different areas and putting my self in bad situations and working out of them.
"I think I’ve done the pre-work and all I have to do is execute it.”
Franchi is still getting used to fighting against a judo fighter, especially when it comes to certain aspects of the clinch, but he remains confident that he will be able to counter any possible throws Gamburyan can execute.
“It’s awkward in the clinch areas,” Franchi said. “I’ve been working on controlling the hips and being careful and I feel confident wherever it takes to the ground.”
Franchi also plans on letting the fight come to him, and react as necessarily. This strategy allows him to be flexible and adjust the game plan to whatever Gamburyan is focusing on.
“I don’t want to expect too many things and go in with a game plan,” Franchi said. “I want to go in, react and have fun with it.”
Franchi wants to control the pace of the fight, even though he will be focusing on reacting to Gamburyan, and Franchi expects conditioning not to be an issue.
“The 145 weight class is one of the fastest, and I’m prepared for that,” he said. “I’ve never had to worry about conditioning for him to outpace me is going to happen.”
All of it is part of Franchi’s development as a fighter. Like many fighters, he brings in fighters who can replicate specific opponent tendencies, allowing Franchi to mentally digest and implement in his game.
“I have a lot of guys back home mimicking [others in the featherweight division] and I’ve been sparring with them,” Franchi said. “I’m really thankful for that.”
The bout will be Franchi’s second in the WEC, following his split decision victory in March over Mike Budnik. This fight against Gamburyan is Franchi’s biggest in his young career.
Franchi understands that he has a lot to gain with a small amount of risk, if he was to defeat a runner-up in “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“I can’t hurt myself by fighting Manny because he’s a big name,” Franchi said. “[A win is] going to make myself higher in the ranks.”
Just as important as winning will be having a good showing and Franchi expects a hard-hitting, great fight and he wants to have fun while doing so.
“I’m going in there to bang,” Franchi said. “It’s going to be explosive and it’s going to be fireworks and I’m excited. I don’t have to be mad at Manny to hit him. It’s a sport and I want to compete and it’s going to be a tough match and I’m hoping to put him in checkmate.”