Eric Eisner on Wednesday announced that his Double E Pictures has optioned the life rights to mixed martial artist and former UFC champion Rich Franklin, and hired David Hollander (The Cleaner; The Guardian) to write a script about Franklin’s career as a fighter. Eisner will produce the film with Motion Theory’s Sean Sorensen. Mathew Cullen of Motion Theory is executive producing.
American Fighter tells the unlikely story of how Franklin, a family man and high school math teacher, taught himself mixed martial arts, quickly emerged as one of the dominant figures in the sport, and ultimately became champion of the UFC. The story also chronicles the rise of mixed martial arts as the fastest growing sport in the world and transformation into a billion-dollar industry.
“I’m excited to see the story of my career as a fighter brought to the screen, and I feel confident that the team assembled will do a great job in telling this story,” Franklin said.
“I’m happy to be in business with Sean and Motion Theory, and look forward to working with David to capture the story of Rich’s remarkable life,” Eisner said. “This is a truly inspirational story that we are excited to tell.”
“Rich’s story has that rare combination of qualities that make for a great sports film; human drama, great obstacle and seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Hollander. “The fact that all of this is set against the formation of an exploding and dangerous sport and that Rich basically defined what a UFC champion could be make it uniquely interesting to write.”
Franklin rose to the pinnacle of the sport when he defeated the late Evan Tanner for the UFC middleweight championship at UFC 53 in 2005. He defended the belt twice before current champion Anderson Silva won it from him. Silva has held the belt ever since.
Franklin, having competed at light heavyweight earlier in his career, returned to the 205-pound division after failing to regain his middleweight strap from Silva. He has had mixed results since bouncing around at light heavyweight mixed in with a couple of catchweight fights, but has done so fighting the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, and other prominent fighters.