ONE On TNT: Rich Franklin Says US Fans Are In For A Treat
April is going to be an action-packed month for MMA fans in North America as ONE Championship is set to feature on prime time television there for the first time ever. The promotion will hold four blockbuster events that will be broadcasted on the TNT network in the US, starting with ONE on TNT 1 on April 7th.
Speaking to ONE Championship, Vice President Rich Franklin gave his thoughts on the promotion’s penetration into the US market, and the big matchups featuring Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, and Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
Adriano Moraes vs Demetrious Johnson
In a highly-anticipated title fight, Johnson will finally challenge Adriano Moraes for the flyweight title in the ONE on TNT 1 main event. While ‘Mighty Mouse’ plans to make it a miserable night for the champion, Franklin thinks it’s an intriguing matchup.
“DJ could have entered ONE demanding a world title shot immediately, but he chose to run a gauntlet of top-level fighters in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix,” Franklin said. “In my opinion, he is the GOAT! But Adriano is a serious threat to that title – he has the most finishes, submissions, and wins in that weight class.
“I’ve watched Adriano improve every time he competes. He has been able to solve the riddle of the losses against both Geje [Eustaquio] and Kairat [Akhmetov]. The day DJ signed with ONE, Adriano knew they were on an inevitable collision course, and he has been training for that day ever since.
“This match will be very cerebral on both sides. One-hundred percent of Adriano’s finishes in ONE are by submission, so I am curious to see the game plan DJ brings to the Circle. DJ is no slouch on the ground either. So, will he take what I see as the path of least resistance and keep the fight standing, or will he go for the takedown? After all, Adriano is 12 centimeters taller. But then again, historically, he is not a finisher with his hands.”
Eddie Alvarez vs Iuri Lapicus
Alvarez will face former title challenger Iuri Lapicus in a potential lightweight title eliminator in the co-main event at ONE on TNT 1. Since both men are known finishers, Franklin doesn’t expect their fight to go past the first round.
“I don’t expect to see this fight go outside of the first round,” Franklin said. “Both of them are well-rounded and capable of finishing on the ground or the feet. Eddie has 15 first-round finishes, and Iuri has 13. If the fans blink during this fight, they may miss it.
“I rarely call anything a ‘must-win’, but I will say a loss here would dig Eddie into a hole he may not want to take the time to dig out of at his age.”
Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs Danial Williams
ONE on TNT 1 also features the ONE Muay Thai flyweight champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who will face Danial Williams in a non-title catchweight bout. The Australian is stepping in on short notice after Jacob Smith was pulled from the card due to travel restrictions in the UK.
‘The Ironman’ is an extremely aggressive fighter, who loves walking down his opponents, but Franklin explains what Williams needs to do in order to overcome the biggest challenge of his career to date.
“I love the way Rodtang moves forward and uses his hands with his Muay Thai, especially when he is wearing mixed martial arts gloves,” Franklin said. “The smaller gloves give heavy-handed fighters like him an advantage in the Circle, and he does an amazing job of body-snatching that liver.
“Danial needs to keep Rodtang from moving forward. Once Rodtang finds his range, he immediately begins going upstairs and downstairs with the hands with constant pressure.”
ONE Championship’s Exciting Talents
Johnson and Alvarez need no introduction in the US having previously competed at the highest level in the UFC before joining ONE. However, Franklin said that the ONE on TNT series is a great opportunity for the US audience to acquaint themselves with the wide array of talent competing in the promotion.
“The US audience is familiar with DJ and Eddie, but they are going to see the talent of the ONE roster and how exciting the organisation is,” Franklin stated. “We may see quite a few converts in April!”
Rich Franklin was one of the most exciting and technically gifted fighters in his era. He’s a former UFC middleweight champion and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019.
Which fight on the ONE on TNT series are you looking forward to the most?