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Morphing into MMA

Former Green Power Ranger Jason Frank makes local debut at Ultimate Warrior Challenge mixed martial arts event.

Frank said he's trying to get into MMA ‘the right way’ by fighting in small promotions and working his way up. ‘I'm trying to pay my dues right now as an amateur,’ he said.

<48hd>Morphing into MMA

<sh>Former Green Power Ranger Jason Frank makes local debut at Ultimate Warrior Challenge mixed martial arts event.

<ro>"I just got kind of tired with the whole Hollywood thing."

<ro1>— Jason David Frank

<1b>By Reed S. Albers

<2b>The Connection

<bt>When it comes to television exposure, most of the fighters at the Ultimate Warrior Challenge 8 mixed martial arts event on Saturday, May 22 at the Patriot Center can claim little to none. Houston's Jason Frank is the exception.

The 36-year-old isn't a household name, but his character Tommy "The Green Ranger" Oliver of the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" is a pop culture icon.

Frank starred on "Power Rangers" for 243 episodes and is one of the series' longest recurring characters. Today, a career change has him climbing the mixed martial arts ladder.

"I just got kind of tired with the whole Hollywood thing," he said.

Frank's no stranger to martial arts. He's been studying karate since he was 3, owns numerous martial arts gyms and was even inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.

But during his time on "Power Rangers," Frank kept an eye on the growth of MMA and waited for his chance to get involved.

"I couldn't do [MMA] while I was filming ‘Power Rangers,’" he said. "I couldn't film with a split eye or cut on my face."

Frank isn't in the MMA career line for a chance to use his celebrity to cash in on the sports' rising popularity — an accusation leveled against former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco.

Frank is going about his career "the right way" by fighting at smaller promotions such as the UWC. It's also helping him shed the "side-show" label some critics have slapped on him.

"A lot of people with his status try to take advantage of [MMA], but he's doing this from the ground up," said Rocky Long, Frank's trainer.

On May 22, MMA experts had hoped to see a bout at the UWC event that could define Frank as a fighter, but his match with Carlos Horn only lasted 24 seconds.

After the two touched gloves, Frank, who weighs 217 pounds, attempted a kick that was caught by the 265-pound Horn and was pushed to the ground.

Frank then rolled Horn onto his back, took a full-mount position and applied an arm-bar submission for a textbook win.

The fight showed he's got the chops to stand alone as a mixed martial artist, but the Power Ranger past still follows him to the cage.

"Fighting out of Houston, Texas ... Jason ‘Fearless’ Frank," the UWC announcer said to a smattering of applause.

"Also known as the Green Ranger from ‘Power Rangers,’" the announcer added, this time eliciting a loud cheer.

Frank soaks it all in. Just as he was on television, he's the hero for MMA fans.

"I've never had any problems with the hardcore MMA fans [booing me]. I've never heard a single boo," he said. "I haven't really experienced any fans saying I shouldn't do this."

Some actors might avoid talking about their time on a geeky children's show, but Frank doesn't let his ego sour his days on the show. He loved "Power Rangers," and the Green Ranger relishes the chance to talk with fans, sign autographs and attend comic book conventions.

"I interact with my fans and I send daily videos to them," he said. "Fans ask me questions, want inspirational messages and I'll text them that, too."

He's also finding closet "Power Ranger" fans at fighting events, who are now becoming his MMA fans.

"I had all the videos," said Matt Zavosky, 24, of Burke. "I was a fan of Tommy and the Green Ranger. It's kind of sad I still remember all of it. But it's good to see him fighting the right way, he's not pulling a Jose Canseco."

"I liked ‘Power Rangers,’ I'm not going to lie," said Nathan Haro, 15, of Mount Vernon. "I never knew he fought, but I thought it would be pretty cool to see him go from a celebrity and Power Ranger to becoming an MMA fighter."

Even other mixed martial artists have admitted to Frank they watched the "Power Rangers."

"It's a good feeling to know that there's some fighters out there and they're not scared to say, 'Yeah I watched that show,'" he said. "And a lot of times they've said ‘Power Rangers’ helped inspire them to start martial arts."

Not everyone jumps on the bandwagon right away.

Chris Rose, one of Frank's opponents at match in Arlington, Texas, wore a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit to the cage as a joke.

"I wasn't happy about it at the time," Frank said "But we're friends now. Nobody can ever do that again though, because it's already been done."

With his 4-0 record , Frank said his goal isn't just to create a large win column, but to gain experience and knowledge. He’d also like to turn pro, but Frank isn't rushing it.

"I'm trying to pay my dues right now as an amateur," he said.