Several big-name fighters have left the UFC in the past to take various positions with other fight promotions, only to do it in a manner that hasn’t exactly left them in the good graces of their former employer.
Randy Couture, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Tito Ortiz all come immediately to mind.
One man that appears to be leaving to further his career is Rich Franklin. Only, Franklin is doing so with the blessing of his former boss, UFC president Dana White.
Having recently started an organic juicing bar called Ze/Lin, Franklin has also been offered a position as a vice president for ONE FC, the premier mixed martial arts organization in Asia. Before taking the position with ONE FC, however, Franklin approached White and company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, and they apparently backed Franklin if he wanted to accept a position with the Singapore-based fight promotion.
“We have a good relationship with Rich,” said White. “Rich got offered a really good opportunity to go work with (ONE FC), and I’m happy for him.”
So why didn’t Franklin, a former UFC middleweight champion, receive the backlash that guys like Couture did? Precisely because he approached White and Fertitta about the offer and sought their counsel.
“There’s nothing wrong if you come and ask,” White continued. “How can you be upset with a guy for trying to better his life or taking a great opportunity somewhere? You can’t. It’s the sneaky guys that lie to your face and all that stuff.
“Rich is out there making some moves. He started a business. He’s got this (juice) business that he’s running, and he’s putting all his time, effort, and money into it, but he needs a source of income for more money to come in. These guys gave him a huge opportunity.”
Franklin hasn’t publicly stated that he has fully decided to accept the position, but MMAWeekly.com sources in Asia said that it is all but a done deal, which Franklin backed in a recent post on his Facebook page.
“I have been in talks with ONE FC about taking a job with them. They offered me a position as VP,” he wrote. “I will be heading to ONE FC headquarters in the next few weeks to work out the details. I met with Dana and Lorenzo at the end of last year and they gave me their blessing. I will keep you posted.”
Franklin still has a fight left on his current UFC contract. Some months ago, he had still intended to fulfill that obligation, but with his juice bar in full swing and the executive opportunity with ONE FC, it’s likely that his UFC contract may lead to retirement instead of one last hurrah in the Octagon.
Not that the door to the Octagon closes just because he may be working for ONE FC.
“I don’t know,” White said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, if he takes this job, that’s it. We’ll never let him fight in the UFC again.’ If he came back and wanted to fight, he’s still under contract with us, and he hasn’t officially retired.”
That would appear unlikely, but with the way that Franklin handles his business, the opportunity is still there. Diving head first into the next phase of his life, however, don’t expect to see Franklin back in the Octagon again, unless, perhaps, he is one day celebrating a Hall of Fame induction.