The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ultimate Fighting by Rich Franklin and Jon Merz (Book Review)

This article originally published in Transitions magazine in my Time to Read book review column…

This will be an unusual book review for me. It’s not that often that I get ‘egg on my face’, especially when it’s put there by a man who could snap me in half while quoting logarithmic equations. I have a library of martial arts books in my dojo and often read them before or after my workouts as a way of expanding both mind and body.  I just finished reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ultimate Fighting by Rich Franklin and Jon Merz. Upon completion I always post my finished books on The Franklin Society fan page on Facebook. It’s how I and several of my friends keep track of and compare the books we read. This was book number 82 for me for this year.

Because I read so many books and also interact with a great number of the authors I know a little bit about how the publishing world works. I hate to skew anyone’s celebrity worship here, but very few of the best-selling memoirs and biographies are written by the person who has their name on the front cover. This holds true for most politicians, artists, television preachers, actors, and, yes, fighters. Most of the books you see out there aren’t written by those folks but are actually penned by a hired ghost writer. Oftentimes you’ll see the ghoster listed as a second author and sometimes not at all. It’s a common practice in the industry. It should surprise no one that many Ultimate Fighting Championship and mixed martial arts fighters don’t pen their own books.

Because of this practice I assumed that Rich Franklin didn’t actually write the book with his name on it and said so in my Facebook post…

“Not bad, but fighter Rich Franklin had his name listed first on a book he probably didn’t write a word of.”

I didn’t think twice about what I wrote until Rich Franklin himself called me to the mat, so to speak, by answering back…

“Hey David, note your posting said probably, which shows yourself doubt. In the future why don’t you talk about things you actually know something about. For the record, the author of this book was not a mixed martial artist, and I spent many nights till the morning hours trying to fix all the problems with this book. My effort was also coordinated with the UFC as well. No need to retract your statement, everybody reading this response will know you’re wrong anyway.”

In other words, I screwed up.

I made a huge assumption based on no intel or verification and got called on it. Although Rich Franklin said there was no need to retract the statement, my own sense of honor demands that I do something to make amends. That’s why I wanted to do this month’s review on the book, not so much to tell you about the book (which is great, by the way) but to make a public apology for offending an author and one heck of a fighter.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Rich Franklin, I’d like to tell you more, but not too much. The last chapter of the book is Rich’s actual story. Franklin didn’t enter the ring by the traditional route moving up through the NCAA wrestling ranks as many American fighters do. He was a working guy, hitting fight after fight and training in whatever available time he had while holding down a fulltime job as a math teacher. There finally hit a point where he had to choose which career to focus on- teaching or fighting. He chose fighting and obviously made the correct decision. After all, he’s the guy that ended the Iceman Chuck Liddell’s career with a knockout.

Aside from the tremendous respect he deserves for working so hard to gain entry to UFC elite status, Franklin deserves respect for more than that. He’s an intellectual, an academic, a modern-day representation of the warrior-poet mystique that eludes many a fighter’s grasp these days. If you’ve watched any episodes of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike, you know what I mean. It’s like Jersey Shore meets the Octagon. Franklin has a Master’s Degree in Education in addition to the teaching certificate he once held. Of all the fighters you see, he’s one that would most likely to be writing his own books. This is something I should have thought of before I made that errant post. Not only that, but Franklin actually comments on his own fan page. Only he and Matt Serra have ever done that for me.

The book really was pretty good. I’ve always said that Complete Idiot’s Guides are much better than many of the college texts that I used during my own days in the halls of academia. This one is no exception. If you’d like to read one book to get a handle on mixed martial arts fighting and what’s going on in the ring, then this book is perfect for it. If you ever run into Franklin somewhere, be sure to give him due credit for penning it.


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