We always knew Rich Franklin was bound to become a company executive at some point, but we never thought that his status as a "company guy" would come full circle in a different Mixed Martial Arts promotion. Nonetheless, his jump to ONE FC is turning out quite well for him.
FHM was able to have an insightful chat with the Asian promotional company's newly-appointed Vice President about turning Pinoy fighters into champions, getting in and out of shape, and knowing when to call it quits, among others. Read on!
"Filipino fighters are probably the most experienced. The Philippines is so far ahead of every other region here in Southeast Asia. People here understand what MMA is all about. They know who the fighters are, what the rules are like. It trickles down to people practicing MMA. There are more MMA practitioners here. People understand wresting at a better level than you would in any other region. Filipinos have the edge.
"I don’t know why there aren't more Filipino champions in the sport. When you look at our champions, they all come from different nations. Shinya Aoki is from Japan. Bibiano Fernandes is from Brazil. Ben Askren is from Australia. Igor Svirid is from Kazhakstan. This is a business that involves the best of the best. It takes hard work to stay there. The belts are going to move around a bit considering that some of the best fighters come from all over the world."
"The sport can be very expensive. When you play basketball, the team usually practices in a complete facility. You have everything you need. A fighter, however, needs to piece everything together. I have to go out and find an MMA school. If I don’t like their boxing coach, I have to go somewhere else to find a different one. Most MMA gyms here don't have weights, so now you have to find a different place for that. Suddenly you have all these people putting their hands in the game. When you get paid, you have to pay everybody else. That's the price you pay for having top-notch training."
"I don't want to criticize Manny Pacquiao for doing other stuff other than boxing. The guy just won a fight where he knocked his opponent six times. He’s 36 now. He’s at the age where he's beginning to realize that he needs to think about the future he's going to have. Obviously he doesn’t have a future in basketball because he's not getting any younger. But the thing about basketball is that it could be a good mental release. It helps his mind reset. He has to have a mental break from boxing. Like him, when my career is done, I want to put myself in a position where I could pursue something else."
"I don't know what getting in shape means, because I never get out of shape. I maintain a good lifting routine. I do resistance strength training. I maintain a strict nutrition. I haven't fought for two years and I still look like I can go anytime. I spend time in the gym. I run. I do rock climbing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and play basketball. I have more activities than a man has time."
"Most athletes are terrible at gauging when it’s time to call it quits. You see athletes stay on top for the longest time and then all of a sudden they lose and fall off. I’ve surrounded myself with good people. I told them that when the day comes where they feel like I don't have it anymore, they have to let me know."
"Father Time started to come to me when I turned 36. I wasn’t recovering from my workout as fast as I used to. I used to train twice a day, but now I need a nap in between if I want to make it through my training. When I was young, I could train all day and still help a buddy of mine move his stuff around. I used to carry couches and refrigerators with ease, and then come back to the gym to train. Now, I may need to go home and lie down first."
"ONE FC offered me a position. I sat down with (UFC President) Dana White and (UFC Chairman and CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta to tell them that I was getting offers somewhere else. I thought they would have some sort of position for me, but they didn’t. They both said that it’s a great opportunity and gave me their blessing. The thing though is that had the UFC created a position for me, it would’ve been much less significant than the role I am playing with ONE FC now."
"I still have one fight left in my UFC contract, and I intend to honor it. I love what I do now, but you have to remember I’m still an athlete. You can't just take that away. It’s a process. It takes time. The thought of leaving the cage for good continues to blow my mind. I still train on a daily basis. I’m still living that life.
"ONE FC is my future. I really need to start thinking about my future in order for me to have that last fight. I have to step away from this job for at least three months in order for me to prepare for a fight. Obviously, I can't take a leave of absence that long. I’ll sit down with the people here in the organization and figure everything out."
Thanks for the chat, idol! We appreciate it! #NumberOneKaRin