Rich Franklin On ONE Warrior Series And Thoughts Of Competing Again

It wasn’t long after his Rich Franklin’s last fight inside the Octagon that ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong, offered the former UFC middleweight champion the position of Vice President of the promotion.

And after initially being thrust into the corporate world, Sityodtong came up with the perfect role for Franklin.

“When I was hired in and I first relocated down here to Singapore, I was handling a ton of different things for ONE,” Franklin told MMA Fighting.

“There wasn’t this clear path for ‘Rich handles this specific thing.’ I was handling so many different things, Chatri comes to me and he says, ‘I have this idea. Think of Anthony Bourdain. Think of No Reservations or Parts Unknown,’ and he starts describing this thing and he used that name, this show specifically. He had the framework of this thing kind of figured out and at the time I was so busy, I looked at him and said, ‘Chatri, I don’t have time for this. I’m sorry, but I can’t do it. And he just looked at me and he kind of smacked me on the shoulder and he goes, ‘You’re gonna do great, man.’ And he just walked away and I looked at him like, ‘I just said no.’”

That idea became ONE Warrior Series (OWS), and Franklin’s role within ONE now mainly revolves around the program.

Franklin is hands-on when it comes to the show, from production, talent evaluation and hosting, that sometimes requires him to get his hands dirty. 

While searching the globe for the next big martial arts star, and showcasing the beauty of the countries they visit, Franklin and OWS Director and co-host Jonathan Fong, often find themselves in some unique situations. Such as the time the Mongolian president Khaltmaagiin Battulga, requested them to visit his office.

“When we were in Mongolia, Jonathan and I, we’re walking around downtown, and we have a contact there that’s kind of showing us around, who’s being our guide, and he gets a call from the president’s office. The president of Mongolia, who requests our presence in his office.

“We’re not far from the government building downtown where the president’s office is and we’re just in flip-flops and shorts. So we had to go to this store and buy new clothes to meet the president. We go into the office and he wanted to meet. He said, ‘I saw on your social media that you were here and I wanted you to come into the office. I’m a fan of the show, I watch your show.’ He actually knew the show, he said, ‘I liked the episode where you guys were in Bangkok’ and he’s going through stories and I’m like, this is crazy,” Franklin enthused. 

“I’m standing in the president of Mongolia’s office and he’s telling me that he’s a fan of the show. He wanted to talk to us about how the shoot was going in Mongolia and if we needed any help with anything. Mongolia’s probably one of my favourite countries I’ve been to and my job is to go and just show how amazing a place is. I fell in love with Mongolia. I basically told him, ‘Listen, we’re here not only to find talent but to showcase the beauty of the country here.”

OWS is about to go into its third year, with a fifth season set to begin in early 2020. And while Franklin loves the adventure that OWS brings, he will be hoping that he can add to the stars he has already found. Stars that include Dae Sung Park, Lito Adiwang and ONE atomweight Muay Thai and kickboxing champion, Stamp Fairtex.

And although Rich Franklin is busy looking for the next generation of champions, the thought of making a comeback is never far from his mind.

“I get bit by that bug all the time. I just don’t talk about it a whole lot because…I’ll say this, up until probably the last year or so, I have thought on numerous occasions about coming back,” Franklin said. 

“Because physically I feel good still, I’m still in good shape. Of course, as time drifts on I realise those are probably more thoughts than they are actually true feelings of me being able to succeed because as you get older it just becomes more and more difficult. But no, you think about it all the time.”

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