Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang may have surprised many people when he barged into the ONE Championship main roster, but ONE Warrior Series CEO Rich Franklin is not one of them.
Franklin witnessed Adiwang’s rise from unknown talent to one of the hottest young stars in The Home Of Martial Arts through his developmental promotion. And the Cincinnati, Ohio native could not be more proud of the Filipino.
“The moment that I came up to this area, I saw Lito and I knew right away that he has a big future,” Franklin said.
“You see now, what Lito has done in ONE Warrior Series graduating to ONE Championship… And he’s just making a statement, living up to what I was expecting [him] to.”
Though his meteoric rise has caught people off guard, Franklin is the last person to be surprised by how well “Thunder Kid” is doing on the main roster.
“I don’t think Lito exceeds my expectations and that’s a compliment to him because I have a lot of expectations for him,” the former UFC World Middleweight Champion said.
“I knew how talented he was when I first saw him. We knew how talented he was, you really see it come to fruition every time he competed in ONE Warrior Series. So, he didn’t exceed my expectations. I already had the bar set high for him from the very beginning.”
Adiwang is one of the new breed Filipino martial artists who have learned to compliment their aggression on their feet with elements of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Franklin thinks he is a testament to how fast the development of mixed martial arts has been in the Philippines.
“I think it’s all about passion here and education. The Filipino martial arts culture is a culture that has a very progressive mentality. They always look for that next step on how to make themselves better,” Franklin said.
“There are a lot of cultures here that will hold onto what their cultural roots are. Instead of embracing the changes that come, they don’t have that progressive mentality of moving forward. But the Filipinos have [that].
“I think that’s what placed them ahead of the curve with a lot of countries in the world, and that’s what puts them there for years to come,” Franklin closed.
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