VANCOUVER - It seems like an easy choice.

Stay safe in a classroom as a teacher or climb into the octagon and trade punches with someone like Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell.

Rich (Ace) Franklin will take the ring, any time.

"I planned on teaching," the likable Franklin said Wednesday following a workout for this weekend's match against Liddell at UFC 115.

"I thought I was going to do my 30-year stint and retire. I've made more money fighting than I would have made in my entire 30-year teaching career. I always try to keep that in the back of my mind when questions about money and things like that come up."

Franklin graduated from his hometown University of Cincinnati with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's in education. He spent time as a high school math teacher before turning to fighting full time.

He won his first professional fight and had 10 straight wins before his first loss.

Franklin, 35, recently did some math tutoring with a young girl who attends his church. He enjoyed the experience but doubts he will return to teaching when he retires.

"I like teaching, I like working with kids," said the former middleweight champion who has a record of 27-5 with one no contest.

"The problem with teaching is, there is so much other stuff that comes with the job. I can't picture myself on a Friday night sitting at home grading papers because my students need it Monday. I can't imagine after my day is over going to faculty meetings and going to parent-teacher conferences and listening to some parent talk to me about how I don't care about their kid."

Franklin won't be the only educated fighter in Saturday's main event. Liddell has a degree is accounting.

Growing up, Franklin's goal was to play football. In retrospect, he should have seen the difficulty in pursing his dream when he was the second-string waterboy on his high school team.

"I wasn't good enough to get the water out to the team in time outs," he laughed. "They had me in case the first-string waterboy got hurt."

Franklin turned to mixed martial arts as a hobby and developed his skills while attending college.

"This is what I was doing the whole time I was in college," he Franklin said. "I would train for fun.

"When you sit back and think about it, I get paid to train. I get paid to go in the gym and spar. If I had a job like teaching, guess what I would be doing in my free time? All that stuff."

Right now Franklin has no idea what he will do when he retires. He's done some commentating, a little acting, even served as an analyst.

"There is nothing I love doing like fighting," he said. "Whatever it is, it will come to me when I get there."