ONE Championship VP Rich Franklin talks Manila, Angela Lee, and what to expect moving forward

Santino Honasan on Jun 20, 2017 02:38 PM
ONE VP Franklin talks Manila, Angela Lee, and the future
ONE Championship Vice President Rich "Ace" Franklin talks about the Manila card, Angela Lee, and what to expect in the future

2017 continues to be another banner year for Asian mixed martial arts promotion ONE Championship, putting on exciting card after exciting card, developing world-class mixed martial arts talent, and already establishing themselves as the number one MMA promotion in Asia, and we're just at the midway point. 

ABS-CBN Sports got to chat with MMA legend and current ONE Championship Vice President Rich "Ace" Franklin, and we got to tackle a number of topics, from their recent trip to Manila, which was arguably one of the best cards ONE has had so far, to Angela Lee's inspiring performance in Singapore, and much more! 

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Just last April, ONE Championship returned to Manila for Kings of Destiny, which saw reigning ONE lightweight champion and homegrown Pinoy fighter Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang successfuly defend his title against the dangerous Ev Ting, as well as a handful of Pinoy fighter all emerging victorious in front of a monster crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. 

The monumental event is already being considered as one of the best cards that ONE Championship has ever put on, and it made history by becoming the most-watched MMA show in Philippine history

"I thought that Manila card was one of the most exciting cards I've seen, from top to bottom." Franklin said. "The night was a good mix of slower fights, longer fights, exciting fights, ground fights, you got to see a lot of different things in that event, and it was just, from top to bottom, very exciting."

Franklin then gave credit to Matt Hume, the promotion's matchmaker. 

"I say this every time, Matt Hume does a great job of matchmaking on our card, I watched and I'm like, man, our events can't get any more exciting, and then the next event comes along and the matches continue to get better, it seems like. I ask myself, how does he keep doing this event after event."

Speaking of Manila, the promotion is set to head back to Philippine shores in November. 

As for Folayang and reigning ONE heavyweight champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera, Franklin says that the two Pinoy titleholders will likely see some more action before the year ends. 

"I'm sure you're gonna see these guys on a card before the end of the year, for sure. Definitely, since we're coming back to Manila towards the end of the year. Personally, I don't know when that will be, that's a question for Matt, the matchmaker."

The following month, MMA fans were witness to even more exciting action, and an amazing show of heart as reigning ONE atomweight champion "Unstoppable" Angela Lee, who had battled sickness on fight week. Lee retained her championship by submitting Istela Nunes in the second round. 

"I didn't know she was sick until after the fight, and it's crazy, having walking pneumonia, and then basically saying I'm gonna go ahead and go through with this competition anyway," Franklin said of Lee's performance. "You can just see what kind of athlete she is, coming into the cage and choosing a strategy that is going to best suit her for winning the fight, the path of least resistance, so to speak. She took a completely different approach to this particular match and ended up putting Istela on the ground and submitting her."

"It just shows that she knows where her strengths match up best with her opponent and she's evolving as a fighter." Franklin added. 

Later this month, ONE Championship heads to Yangon, Myanmar for an exciting middleweight title rematch between reigning champion Vitaly Bigdash and hometown hero Aung La N Sang. 

Franklin says that he expects a more entertaining matchup this time around, given that N Sang will be coming in with a full training camp. 

"Our next event is in Yangon, Myanmar, we've got Vitaly Bigdash and Aung La, a big rematch, and I'm personally looking forward to this fight because Aung La has a full camp this time. He took the first match on short notice, but he's had a full camp to prepare, I'm excited."

"Now he's had a full camp to assess his opponent this time, it's gonna be interesting what kind of gameplan and how he's gonna execute it coming into this match." Franklin added. 

Moving forward, one unique attraction that mixed martial arts fans could be seeing more of are the special matches, much like the grappling superfight between Shinya Aoki and Gary Tonon in Singapore. It was an exciting back-and-forth affair that saw Tonon submit Aoki with a heel hook late into the match. 

"That was the first one that we've done, and I'll be honest, I was a bit skeptical, because a grappling match has the potential to be one big snoozefest. It ended up, the selection of the grapplers and the styles of those grapplers made for a really good match. I was really as excited watching that as I was the other matches on the card."

Franklin revealed that they have something special planned for their Yangon card. 

"When we get to Yangon, we're actually doing a traditional Lethwei fight. It's one of the matches on the top of the card, but it's basically to pay tribute and to give respect to the local martial art there. So yeah, I believe that you will see more grappling matches and stuff like that on a ONE Championship card."

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With six months already in the books and six more to go before we bid goodbye to 2017, expect ONE Championship to continue making moves and putting on world-class mixed martial arts action all across Asia. 

If you're a fan of mixed martial arts, and martial arts in general, you should be pretty excited to see what the future has in store. 

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