By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the honor to sit down with former UFC middleweight champion and legend in the MMA community Rich “Ace” Franklin. Rich not only sits with a spectacular 29-7-0-1 NC record but has moved on to be the vice president of Asia’s biggest fight promotion One Championship. Let’s ask Rich a few questions and see what he has to say.
If you’re an MMA fan then you know who Rich Franklin is. Throughout his fighting career, he has faced the best of the best and claimed his spot in history as the UFC middleweight champion of the world.
Nick: With so much success outside of the cage do you still miss competing on the big stage as a fighter?
Rich: Coming back and competing at a high level certainly is not easy. A part of me will always love competing. I love that rush of competition. Anything is possible, but right now I’m happily retired. I miss competing, but what I miss most is the preparation for the fight and the brotherhood that comes along with it.
Nick: You have been the middleweight champion for the UFC, appeared on TUF as a coach, assistant coach, and fill in coach, started a clothing brand that supports the fighter in everyone, and the vice president of the biggest promotion in Asia, is there any goals in the fight world that are left to accomplish?
Rich: There is a lot of work to be done. This industry just continues to grow and I project it will get even bigger five, or even ten years from now. The work we will have put in today will reap its results tomorrow. Very few people are blessed to be able to help the industry grow like I did as an athlete and now continue to as an executive outside the cage. Especially here in Asia, the opportunity is great. ONE Championship is really doing an amazing job of rapidly growing the sport on this side of the world. It’s exploding and really taking off. That means more work and everyone’s happy.
Nick: You have fought the best of the best in your career. Out of your 29 victories which do you think is your biggest one?
Rich: I left a teaching career to pursue MMA when it was still banned in a large majority of the states in the U.S. Needless to say, my father was not a happy man. He went to college in his late 30’s to earn a nursing degree that took nearly a decade. Education was paramount to him. I was in Vegas defending my title for the first time, and it also happened to be the first time my dad came to a title fight. We were having dinner the night before my fight, and my dad told me how proud he was of my decision to pursue my dreams. That moment trumps any victory I ever experienced in the cage.
Nick: Is there any fight during your time in the UFC that you would have liked to have had that did not happen?
Rich: I always wanted to fight Jim Carrey, and then have a stand-up comedy battle. I am pretty sure I would have lost one of those!
Nick: You still have one fight left on your UFC contract which I have read in the past that you want to fulfill. Will your fans get to see you enter the octagon one last time?
Rich: No, I don’t think so. I’m happily retired, I’m also 42-years old and this game caters to the young guys. It’s a young man’s sport.
Nick: Should you change your mind and decide to fight one more time would Anderson Silva still be an opponent you would like to face?
Rich: Would I fight Anderson a third time? Absolutely. I have the mentality of a champion, and people say they would love to see a third fight between me and Anderson, and to that, I say I 100% can beat Anderson if we ever fought again. But I’m happy with life right now and I’m enjoying being retired. You can’t stay in the fight game forever. Knowing when to walk away is also a big part of being a smart fighter.
Nick: Which is harder in your opinion being a fighter or a promoter?
Rich: Of course the two are completely different things. Each poses very different challenges, but both are equally enjoyable. I love this sport and I love being able to help grow the sport in Asia. Lending my experience to be able to help athletes develop their careers, it reminds me a lot of when I was starting out.
Nick: What inspired you to take the position as One Championships vice president?
Rich: As I mentioned earlier, very few athletes who helped the sport grow as I did are blessed with a position to continue growing the sport outside the cage. I was honored ONE Championship put their faith in my ability to produce results as an executive. I met several members of the team, and it was full of rock stars. On this team, you have no choice but to give 100% excellence every day, and they force me to raise my standards!
Nick: With current stars such as Ben Askren and Angela Lee in One Championship in your opinion who do you think will be the next big star?
Rich: We have so many great athletes over in Asia that could become huge stars. Guys like Eduard Folayang and Aung La N Sang, these guys are all the creme of the crop in the sport and can compete with anybody in the world. I believe it’s just a matter of time before we have a local, homegrown Asian talent that really makes it big globally. The sport is exploding at a rapid pace and fans are really jumping on it.
Nick: Are there any plans to get some type of TV deal in America or hold an event here?
Rich: There is always that possibility, you’ll just have to wait for announcements like that. Obviously, nothing is set in stone just yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Right now, ONE Championship continues to focus on Asia because we believe the potential for the sport here is absolutely massive. There are roughly 4.4-billion people in Asia all within the same time zone, so you can imagine the opportunity that presents.
Nick: I know that you are very busy and do a lot of traveling for your current position. With all of that going on do you still find a good amount of time to train?
Rich: I love training. That part of me will never cease to exist. I’m a big health and fitness guy, I love pushing my body to the limit and I feel great every day. I actually feel much better now after my career, than I did when I was still actively competing. I always love to train, whether it’s at home or in the many gyms in whichever city I am in.
Nick: Rich have you submitted to the takeover?
Rich: This is Rich “Ace” Franklin and I have submitted to the takeover.
Being a fan of MMA for so long this was truly and honor. Rich was a great fighter, champion, and now Vice President of a fast growing promotion. One Championship is extremely lucky to have him. I would also like to extend another thank you to Rich for his time. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver,.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA