Mixed Martial Arts

Franklin, Le bring their passion to Macau for UFC on FUEL TV 6

The Canadian Press
11/9/2012 11:13:46 AM
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MACAU, China -- Rich Franklin thinks he has one more title run left in him before he hangs up his gloves for good.

The 38-year-old former UFC middleweight champion will find out Saturday when he faces Cung Le in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 6: Franklin vs. Le, held in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau.

"I always hate getting asked about title fights when I'm getting ready for a fight because right now I've got Cung on my radar for Saturday night, so that's my primary goal," Franklin said. "But ultimately, dropping back down to 185 pounds was about possibly making another title run before I retire."

Franklin (29-6 MMA, 14-5 UFC) and Vietnamese-born former Strikeforce title holder Le (8-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) both come into the fight with something to prove -- Le insists he still has a passion for fighting despite a budding Hollywood career.

However, when the pair meets at Venetian Macau Resort Hotel's CotaiArena, there is probably less on the line for the two fighters than there is for the promotion itself.

In 2010, the UFC appointed former NBA China exec Mark Fischer as its Managing Director of UFC Asia and opened an office in Beijing. Two years later, the promotion isn't quite ready to reach the Chinese capital, but it most certainly has the globe's most-populous country on its radar.

"A couple of years ago, we opened the office with a vision to bring the world's fastest-growing sport to Asia," Fischer said at a pre-event press conference in Hong Kong. "Now, we're bringing our event to China for the first time ever in UFC's 19-year history.

"We're growing rapidly in China. From working off a very small base a couple of years ago, we've now grown UFC programming to be available to 492 million viewers, and now we're averaging about 20 million viewers per week that are tuning in an watching our weekly program in China."

The UFC's efforts in China have focused largely on educating the public to increase awareness of their product. While martial arts have played a role in Chinese culture throughout history, the sport of mixed martial arts has yet to really take hold in the country. However, Fischer insisted that is quickly changing, and the company is expecting a sellout in Macau.

"The groundwork has been laid, and the time is right to bring our first event to Chinese soil," Fischer said. "

Franklin fought most recently in June, were earned a unanimous decision over MMA legend Wanderlei Silva in Brazil. He hasn't earned back-to-back wins since 2008, but after five bouts contested above the middleweight limit, "Ace" believes his capable of making one more run at the 185-pound championship.

Meanwhile, Le has become a bit of a prolific actor in recent times after wrapping roles in movies such as "He Man with the Iron Fists," "Dragon Eyes" and "The Grandmasters." Still, the kickboxing master believes he still has a bright future in real fighting in addition to his staged work.

"I enjoy competition," Le said. "I'm a martial artist first before I'm an actor. So as long as I can compete, I'll compete, and when it's time, I'm sure I'll hang it up. But right now, I'm the main event with Rich Franklin, and I'm excited to be part of this event."

In addition to the evening's headliner, Brazilian contender Thiago Silva (14-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) meets undefeated Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov (12-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in the UFC on FUEL TV 6 co-headliner. In total, athletes from eight different nations compete on the evening's six-fight main card.

Rich Franklin and Cung Le (Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


(Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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