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If you were writing a list of some of the most scintillating strikers in MMA history, Rich Franklin has to be right up there on your shortlist. The UFC Hall of Famer used his striking accuracy, power, and ground game to become the UFC middleweight champion, taking out some notable names during a stellar career. Now, happily retired from active competition and working as the vice president of ONE Championship, Franklin sat down with M&F to discuss his thoughts on how he built his striking power, and why ONE Championship has the best strikers in the world as we look forward to ONE on Prime Video 5.
“When it comes to speed and power, there are things that you can do in the gym like weightlifting and resistance training,” explains Franklin. “When I say gym, that encompasses everything, like plyometric exercises, concentric (where the muscle shortens to remain stable) and eccentric (where the muscle lengthens due to resistance) type of exercises. Then there’s things that you can do in the jiujitsu and boxing schools. Really, what builds speed more than anything else is practicing technique.”
Known as “Ace” during his Octagon days, Franklin’s mastering of technique can be seen in his 2005 match against Ken Shamrock where he won by TKO thanks to a flurry of punches in two minutes and 42 seconds. Or, his “Knockout of the Night” first round defeat of Chuck Liddell in 2010 where he absorbed some devastating kicks and returned fire with a lightning-fast right hand. The list of Franklin’s career highlights is a long and illustrious one. “It’s all in the efficiency of the motion that you do, says the MMA icon. “And, the best way to build power in a punch is to throw a lot of punches.
He adds: “For example: there are drills I’ll do in the gym where maybe I’m launching a medicine ball against a wall or using my hip to push, so that it mimics the punch but at the end of the day, it’s not exactly the same as punching. So, when you have gloves on and you’re actually punching a bag and working on, for example: the technique of throwing a cross, it’s learning how to snap that punch on the bag. Drop your center of gravity, throw your hips in, and all those things happen simultaneously. And, it’s the timing of that, because if one variable in that technique fails, then the power of your punch significantly diminishes. You know, it helps to be stronger, which is why I have always been a big proponent of resistance training and that can be things like band training, high rep (with low weight) volume training or low rep (with high weight volume) training. If you want to be good at fighting, you practice fight technique.”
As a vice president, and seminar coach, Franklin has been able to get up close and personal with many of the athletes in ONE Championship, and says that he is blown away by their arsenal. “There’s different martial arts (competitions) at these events that we do,” says Franklin. “You have these kickboxing events and Muay Thai within the events and you get to see striking in ONE Championship at a level that is way beyond that of MMA. I remember, when I came to Singapore for the first time and I worked with some legitimate Muay Thai champions from Thailand. The difference between the Muay Thai that I learned for MMA, and it’s necessary to tweak things don’t get me wrong, and the Thai that they practice, it was like night and day. I would throw a kick, and I would get kicked two or three times because they’re just more efficient with their motions.” With rumors abound that ONE Championship will be coming to the United States in 2023, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the various disciplines on display in ONE Championship, available via the company’ broadcast partner: Amazon Prime Video.
At age 48, and still in phenomenal shape, the former high school teacher is now in a position where up and coming fighters are just as important to him as the children that he used to teach back in math class. “You look at ONE on Prime Video 5 coming up (Dec 2, 8 p.m. EST), and you have Anatoly Malykhin and Reinier de Ridder as the main event. I really like both of these guys,” shares Franklin. “When I see two guys like that are fighting, particularly now when I’m working in the commentary booth calling fights, it’s like ‘Oh, man! You’re proud and loyal to both of them. It’s tough, because you just want to succeed in this business.”
ONE on Prime Video 5: De Ridder vs. Malykhin will feature three World Title fights in three different martial arts disciplines (MMA, grappling, and Muay Thai). The event will stream live this Friday beginning at 8 p.m. EST and is FREE for Amazon subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. All others can view on watch.onefc.com.