Former middleweight world champion Rich “Ace” Franklin began his career outside the cage, he came on as Vice President for martial arts giant ONE Championship.
Now, just a few years since making the jump from competing professionally to the front office, Franklin has evolved into a master talent scout and CEO of one of ONE Championship’s most successful properties in ONE Warrior Series.
Along with series director and co-host Jonathan Fong, Franklin traverses the globe in search of the absolute best martial arts talent on offer.What began as a reality documentary series in 2018 has transformed into ONE Championship’s premier vessel for discovering new talent, and at the forefront of it all is Franklin.
On multiple occasions, Franklin has managed to discover a handful of diamonds in the rough.
“The ONE Warrior Series program has proven to be one of the most effective in discovering superstar talent in martial arts. We’ve had many prospects come through our doors, and a lot of them have gone on to ONE Championship to become superstars,” said Franklin.
“Obviously, we have Stamp Fairtex as one of them, but also guys like Dae Sung Park and Lito Adiwang, both explosive finishers that fans absolutely love. It’s been a great journey so far, and we’re just getting started.”
To say that ONE Warrior Series has been a success would be an understatement, as the documentary series has produced a multitude of future and current stars, the biggest one being none other than the previously mentioned Thai sensation and two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex.
The winner of the ONE Warrior Series 2 contract, Stamp became a two-sport world champion, capturing the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Titles in her first two ONE Championship appearances, before eventually testing herself inside the ONE Circle to begin her quest for an unparalleled third World Championship in as many sports.
While Stamp has already achieved gold, a number of other ONE Warrior Series graduates hope to be able to do the same, and one of the latest contract winners whose future looks to be very, very bright is Filipino dynamo Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang.
Adiwang trains out of the legendary Team Lakay gym in Baguio City, Philippines. He has been impressive in his first two matches in ONE Championship, and seems likely headed for big things down the road.
Stamp and Adiwang are just two of ONE Warrior Series’ big success stories, and as long as Franklin and the ONE Warrior Series crew continue to comb the earth for hidden gems, more and more talent will soon get their opportunity to shine.
Franklin looks to continue to be the driving force behind ONE Championship’s primary talent recruitment arm and will continue to uncover the best unheralded talent from all over the world.
“The talent we have already recruited are extraordinary. They have the potential to really become global needle-movers,” says Franklin.
“My athletes have signed contracts giving them the ability to earn a contract with ONE Championship that exceeds USD$100,000. I can also award these contracts at my own discretion. I’m very much looking forward to this entire year because we have a lot of work to do.”
ONE Warrior Series is slated to hold four athlete tryouts this year, as Franklin looks for the next wave of hopefuls to join his program. The show is expected to make stops in iconic martial arts hotbeds such as Japan, Brazil, the United States, South Korea, and India, as well as host multiple live events in Singapore.
“We are looking to make several additions to the roster with a busy year of recruiting, in both mixed martial arts and ONE Super Series kickboxing. The ONE Warrior Series pace is increasingly giving more opportunities for athletes to graduate through to ONE Championship,” Franklin concluded.
Episodes from Seasons 1-4 of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series can be found on ONE Championship’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/OneFCMMA. Check local listings for details on the latest season of OWS.