Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Rich Franklin can now add a new role to his resume, as "Ace" has officially been announced as the vice president of ONE FC, Asia's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
Rich talked about his new role with the company, saying that joining the team was pretty much a no-brainer.
"The offer was definitely something that appealed to me and I like the people at ONE FC, so it was a no-brainer decision. There is no convincing needed for me to join the team. I'm a ONE FC member and I'm here this week to discuss how I can optimize my expertise and experience. I am here to learn the culture of the organization; how it operates, how it functions. They have an aggressive growth plan over the next couple of years and it will be about me learning how that growth plan is going to execute."
According to ONE FC president Victor Cui, adding Rich to the team was just another piece to the puzzle in bringing the best people in MMA together, which now includes Matt Hume -- Franklin's former trainer -- and Ben Askren.
Cui also gave a brief outline of Franklin's duties in his new role.
"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. In his role as Vice President, Franklin will be doing extensive work in media (broadcast and television) when moving into new territories for example, and also in fighter development in the future. 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."
But just because the original "UFC company man" is signing on with a new MMA organization, doesn't mean that he's completely turning his back on the Zuffa-owned promotion. "Ace" still intends to fulfill the final fight on his UFC contract, though no plans are in motion at the moment for his farewell fight.
"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."
As of now, "Ace" has no plans to relocate to Asia, saying that his duties will be performed right from his home, though he will be traveling across the globe when needed.
Franklin was last seen competing inside the Octagon at UFC on FUEL TV 6 in 2012, losing to Cung Le via first-round knockout. Since then, "Ace" has been on an MMA hiatus, instead focusing all of his efforts on launching his new organic juice bar business, ZeLin, with the first location opening last year in Beverly Hills, California.
Now, "Ace" looks to help ONE FC's popularity grow even more across Asia, but fight fans can still look forward to seeing one of the classiest guys in the game compete one final time before he hangs his gloves up for good.