(Now that I think about it, Rich always was something of a forward thinker when it came to MMA.)
If Rich Franklin is “a loser” by his own admission, I’d sure like to know who he considers a winner (besides Anderson Silva, obviously). The former middleweight champion has been killing it outside of the octagon lately, opening his own successful, high-end juice business and now, accepting a role as the Vice President of burgeoning Asian MMA promotion, One FC. Not bad for a guy who once *insert hackneyed Ace Ventura reference here*
While rumors of Franklin’s potential gig started floating around more than a month ago, it wasn’t until this morning that Cheryl Tay of Yahoo Sports broke the official news. ONE FC chief executive officer Victor Cui was more than elated when discussing the role of his promotion’s latest acquirement:
Rich Franklin is another perfect example – he is an icon in this industry. Everybody loves him, he is well-respected, and he will a fantastic addition to the team in terms of experience and helping the sport grow in Asia from ground up awareness.
We will continue to define his role but to me now what’s most important is finding the best people. I am aggressively hiring in all positions and looking to add another 200 staff in the near future as we grow. At the moment, we are a young company still and Rich will do a lot of different things for us, from talent management to fighter recruitment and giving seminars.
Franklin was similarly excited by the prospect of working for Asia’s fastest-developing MMA promotion, telling Yahoo that “MMA in Asia right now is at the tip of the iceberg.”
“If you were to rewind the clock,” said Franklin, “it’s like MMA in the States back in 2003. I think MMA is going to take off like wildfire here in Asia and I will be part of it.”
Franklin made sure to confirm that, despite not having fought in over two years, there will be nothing in his ONE FC deal preventing him from fulfilling his UFC contract with a final fight, whenever that may be.
I went to speak to Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta of the UFC at the end of last year, to tell them that ONE FC was offering me a job. They told me it sounds like a really good offer and they were completely supportive, unlike what others might have thought.
According to the UFC, taking a position in ONE FC does not force me into retiring from fighting. It is my intention to fight my last fight and it will be my retirement fight. But I have to sit down and discuss this with everybody (at ONE FC) as well. Will it be at 185 or 205 pounds? It doesn’t matter as long as the opponent they pick makes sense to me. It must be something exciting for the fans to see.
Although “Ace” will remain stateside while carrying out most of his duties for ONE FC, he will be in Singapore all week to promote/attend ONE FC: Honor & Glory. Let’s hope he’s able to avoid another restroom mishap like the last time he was around fancy company.