Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin has defended One FC from comments from UFC senior vice president Joe Carr.
Carr is reported to have called ONE FC a grassroots promotion whereas the UFC was like the Premier League in comparison to ONE being like a south east Asian football league.
“These sound like comments from somebody who doesn’t do business on this side of the world that often,” Franklin, 42, told Channel NewsAsia. “They do one show at a time; we spent years developing talent over here.”
“We’re the competitor to them and we put on a great show. Our show is quality from start to finish. Our fighters are world class from start to finish.”
The reported numbers for the recent UFC event in Singapore where around 8400 spectators whereas ONE have been attracting over 12000 for the same venue in recent years.
“That’s the difference between one organisation coming here to put on a show, and another organisation operating on this side of the world,” said Franklin, who is a vice president at ONE FC.
“Clearly, we’ve been over here doing due diligence, putting the hard work in, and people know this brand here – not just because of the brand itself but because we’re also building local heroes here.”
“In Singapore we have an atomweight (52kg) champion who’s half-Singaporean and the crowd’s taken to her not just because of her nationality but because of her skill level,” he added, referring to ONE’s rising star Angela Lee.
Carr had mentioned that Lee was not ready yet to compete in the UFC let alone compete with Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
“Quite frankly, I would stack any one of our champions here against any champion in the world,” he said.
“If you watch any of our shows, I’m sure their talent speaks volumes for what they’re capable of doing.”
ONE chairman Chatri Sityodtong, had responded to Carr by inviting Joanna Jedrzejczyk to step in the cage with Lee.
“I would love to see that. I think Angela would do more than just hold her own against their champion,” said Franklin.
“And all of this is just one man’s opinion – you can look at the track record of the athletes and judge for yourself.”
Earlier in the month, UFC fighter Michelle Waterson said that Lee was “not competing at the same level as athletes” in the UFC.
“It sounds like every person in that organisation is just repeating the same statement over and over and regurgitating it for the media,” said Franklin. “You can keep saying the same thing and I’ll keep saying the same thing back.”
Franklin’s fellow vice-president Loren Mack also dismissed additional comments by Michelle Waterson on Lee being “not very well-known” outside of Asia.
“Angela’s transcending barriers and bringing in a mainstream audience outside of MMA,” he said.
“She’s female, Asian and a fighter: It’s because of what she represents which is why she’s so popular, let alone being an incredible fighter.”