Rich Franklin’s last fight for the UFC was in 2012, when he took on Cung Le in front of a packed house at The Venetian’s Cotai Arena.

It was the UFC’s first foray into Macau, where Franklin and Le would headline the first of several shows the organisation would hold over the coming years.

Le got the better of “Ace” that night and delivered a first round TKO, but Franklin has gone on to become a big part of the growth story of mixed martial arts in Asia, as vice president of the region’s biggest MMA promoter, ONE Championship.

Rich Franklin

IT WASN’T A RARE OCCASION FOR A FIGHTER TO NOT SHOW AND TO HAVE SOMEONE FROM THE CROWD FILL THE SPOT.

Technically, Franklin had one more fight left on his UFC contract but the 40-year-old has officially announced his retirement as an MMA fighter.

“I have closed one chapter of my life and begun another,” he wrote in an editorial for The Players Tribune titled Chasing a Dream.

Franklin wasn’t always a fighter. He quit a teaching career to pursue fighting at a time when MMA was neither mainstream nor regulated.

“I fought in shows before athletic commissions really existed,” he wrote.

“We brought our own gloves … if we even wanted to use them. I fought in cages with torn chain links or broken floorboards, oftentimes in front of crowds at bars or fairgrounds of less than a few hundred people. It wasn’t a rare occasion for a fighter not to show and to have someone from the crowd fill the spot. Weight classes? What were weight classes?

Despite his retirement as a professional fighter, he will no remain active, particularly in Asia where ONE Championship is in rapid expansion mode into markets from Myanmar to Mainland China.

“I am blessed to continue working in an industry I helped build. I will continue to do great things with ONE Championship.”