In one of its biggest moves to date, One Fighting Championship has roped in mixed martial arts legend Rich Franklin as its vice-president in charge of fighter development, media engagement and growing the Singapore-based organisation's brand across Asia.
"I honestly believe in a few years' time, MMA can be as big as football in this region, and that's what I aim to do by training more Asian fighters to the top level and creating regular content for fans to watch and be excited about," the 39-year-old told The Straits Times.
Franklin, regarded as one of the sport's greatest middleweights, is under contract for one more fight with the rival Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"That will be my final fight - I haven't decided who the opponent will be but I hope to get it done before I turn 40," said the affable Cincinnati native, who has won 29 out of 37 official bouts.
Franklin has already begun work in Singapore, attending promotional activities in the lead-up to One FC's Honour and Glory card on Friday.
Organisers said nearly 15,000 tickets have been snapped up for the promotion's sixth event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which is headlined by the debut of United States Olympian and two-time NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren.
Franklin, who will shuttle frequently between the US and Asia for his new job, said: "With just a few tickets left, the response from the Singapore public goes to show their appetite for top-class MMA. There's few other places in the world where the sport is growing so fast."