This article was originally posted on MMA Madness.
When actor Jason David Frank—who is best known for his role as the Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers—announced he would be making his professional MMA debut with SuckerPunch Entertainment sometime this year, he was met with mixed reactions.
Maggie Hendricks of Yahoo.com's Cagewriter claimed that the former Power Ranger was using MMA as a publicity stunt to build his name after his last movie, a 2007 direct-to-video film called The Junior Defenders. Hendricks claimed that by Frank entering MMA, it proves that the sport is a fad and could be used by any celebrity to boost their falling career.
What most people don’t realize is that Frank is a longtime martial artist and is passionate about MMA. Like current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, Frank got his start in Shotokan Karate at the age of four and is a sixth-degree black belt.
Despite his credentials, Frank realizes there is a difference between being a great karate fighter and being a great MMA fighter.
“Karate is different than MMA, and I know that,” Frank said in a recent appearance on the Sans the Gloves radio show. “It kind of bothers me, though, when I read all of these interviews. Like [Hendricks] posted this ridiculous story saying, ‘MMA is a fad and does he really think he’s going to be this and that,’ and it’s like I’ve been in martial arts for my whole entire life and I know that mixed martial arts is different.”
In the Yahoo! article, Hendricks also went as far as to compare Frank with Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco. Canseco made his MMA debut earlier this year as part of DREAM’s Super Hulk Tournament in Japan, competing against 7'2" “Techno Goliath” Hong Man Choi. The baseball player eventually submitted to strikes in the first round against Choi.
Frank takes offense to being compared to Canseco, and he wants the fans to understand the difference between the two.
“I’m not Jose Canseco. I’d beat Jose’s ass. You can go online and look at it,” Frank said. “He came to my school and he sucked, and I don’t like Jose. But this girl compared this whole celebrity thing to Jose. I mean, it’s hard for me because before I was a Power Ranger, I was a dedicated martial artist. I was a full-contact fighter even though I didn’t do the stuff that everyone else was doing.”
Frank isn’t using MMA as a way to boost his acting career or to draw attention to himself like Canseco did. The Green Ranger describes a deeper reason for his quest to fight in the world of mixed martial arts.
“There are reasons behind why I want to fight,” Frank said. “I lost my brother about seven years ago, we were going to do this together, and it’s [a] personal thing. It’s not for the money or anything else, or like how Maggie said it’s a publicity stunt...because she said my last film came out in 2007. She is completely wrong. That film was filmed in 1994 and was finally released in 2007."
Frank admits that the film did not do well. However, he has been keeping himself busy since then and is the founder of the hit MMA clothing line Jesus Didn’t Tap.
“It was a crappy movie, but on a bigger note I am the founder and creator of Jesus Didn’t Tap, and that’s keeping me really busy,” Frank said. “That’s my organization and clothing line. I am the main guy behind that source and we’re out there everywhere.
“We had huge numbers this month and we are in every store out there, so I’m doing bigger and better things, and these reporters think I am just going to go out there and do a few fights. I mean, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about fulfilling what you want to do in life, and I think everyone has a right to do that.”
Frank’s clothing line has become a very recognizable brand in MMA, and many fans wonder where the idea came from to mix Jesus with MMA.
“I have a lot of Pastors that train with me, and it’s funny because they smash a lot of people and it’s kind of one of those things where ‘Jesus didn’t quit,’” Frank said. “Tapout was so simple, so I wanted something with Jesus in it and Jesus didn’t tap.
“A lot of the songs I have on my website I wrote, and the reason why I wrote the second song that’s on there now is because people were like, ‘Oh Jesus couldn’t tap, he had his hands nailed to the cross,’ but in MMA you can verbally tap like what Matt Hughes did with (Georges) St-Pierre, so I wrote the song to tell all those people out there.”
Frank made the transition to MMA in 2006 and is currently a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been putting in a lot of time and effort into developing a ground game, training out of Gracie Barra with UFC lightweight contender “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard.
Guillard has been a huge help in teaching the Mighty Morphin Power Ranger new wrestling skills to supplement his already dangerous stand-up game.
“Melvin and I are good friends and he lives right down the street from me, so I am going to be in his corner for his UFC fight [against Nate Diaz in the main event] on Sept. 16,” Frank said.
“Melvin is great. He’s a good guy and he’s been training hard. Nate’s going to be in trouble. I know Melvin really well, he’s a really good friend of mine, and his training has been really intense. Melvin has been doing a different type of training for this, and his cardio is going to be off the hook. He’s got a good game plan, and I’m very excited to watch and be in his corner.”
As a former Power Ranger, one would think that would add extra pressure on Frank. However, he explains it is just the opposite.
“Everyone is saying, ‘Dude, you got a lot of pressure man, you’re a Power Ranger,’ and I take that back because I don’t have pressure,” Frank said. “The guy on the other side of the cage has pressure because if I kick his butt, he got his butt kicked by a Power Ranger. So you tell me, who’s got more pressure, me or him? Would you want to get knocked out by a Power Ranger?”
As far as his first professional fight is concerned, a date has not been set in stone. At the age of 35, some may believe Frank will have a short career in MMA, but whether that’s true or not, Frank is determined to become a successful MMA fighter.
“I just want to do what I want to do for my brother and get on with it. I want to do my work and keep my fans happy because I know I have some good dedicated fans.”
Sans the Gloves radio broadcasts live every Thursday at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET). The show is hosted by MMAMadness.com’s Samantha Johnson and TUF Season 9 alumni Santino Defranco. For more information, or to download previous episodes, go to www.blogtalkradio.com/mmamadnessradio.