The rich history of mixed martial arts in the East has included some of the world’s best fighters and promotions over the last decade.
While promotions have risen and fallen all throughout Japan and other areas in Asia, the need for a stable organization to come along is something sorely sought after.
That’s where One Fighting Championships hopes to step in. With their first show scheduled for Saturday in Singapore, the upstart promotion is banking on being the next major force in MMA and they hope to make Asia recognized as one of the top areas for the sport in the new worldwide market.
The CEO and owner of One FC is Victor Cui, a veteran promoter who has worked with ESPN, the X-Games and the PGA Tour in Asia, and he’s hoping his passion for MMA will bring fans in by the droves when they debut this weekend.
The idea for One FC was something very simple in Cui’s head from his boyhood love of martial arts to the epic mountains that MMA has climbed over the last few years.
“I have spent the last 15 years of my career in the sports media industry with ESPN StarSports and the PGA Tour, helping to organize events such as the X Games Asia, the Olympics, PGA Tour, World Cup Indoor Soccer, and many other world-class events. And I’ve never seen a sport like mixed martial arts take over the sports world before. MMA has skyrocketed with 30 times growth in the last 10 years and it’s barely scratched the surface of its potential,” Cui told MMAWeekly.com.
“For example, less than 1% of the 3.9 billion people in Asia have heard of or watched MMA. One Fighting Championship really began as a product of my passion and my expertise. I have always loved martial arts; as a child, I learned to box from my father in our backyard and I also even earned a black belt in Taekwondo. An enormous market opportunity, coupled with my passion and my expertise, is simply a dream. I am living my dream right now.”
Cui’s enthusiasm aside, promotions have come along in the past promising major delivery and then falling flat after only a few events. Some don’t even make it past their inaugural event. So what makes One FC different?
Cui says it’s his commitment to the sport and to its growth throughout Asia. To prove that, Cui pulled out all the stops for the first One FC show in Singapore.
A 12,000 seat stadium will hold the event and they’ve made deals that will make the show accessible to millions around the world. They’ve stockpiled the card with some of the top talent throughout Asia, while also bringing over names from all over the MMA world like Phil Baroni and Gregor Gracie.
It’s part of the big plan that Cui will start to unfold this weekend, and he plans to continue in the future.
“MMA is still brand new in this part of the world, excluding Japan where MMA is not new. MMA in Asia is roughly 5-7 years behind the US right now in terms of mainstream exposure. Champion vs. Champion, our first show on September 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, is going to open a lot of eyes here in Asia,” Cui explained.
“There has never been a card this stacked in Asian history in terms of number of world champions and/or champions. There will be 16 world champions and/or champions from various martial arts backgrounds like Muay Thai, Boxing, BJJ, Sanda, Kung Fu, Karate, etc.”
In building this first card, Cui paid close attention to detail when selecting the fighters involved. There are enough names that hardcore fans in the United States and places like Canada will recognize to tune in, while still reaching their core audience in Asia with fighters from surrounding areas that will bring out the crowds in droves.
The philosophy for Cui is to make One FC a major player in the MMA world, one event at a time.
“For lack of a better analogy, One Fighting Championship is the UFC of Asia. We are already breaking all sorts of historical records here in Asia. For example, our anticipated viewership for our first event will be north of 500 million viewers,” said Cui.
“I mean if you look at Pride FC or Dream FC at their absolute peaks, they only had a media reach in the tens of millions. On top of that, One Fighting Championship already has the highest quality roster of the best Asian fighters and world champions in Asia, excluding Japan. Look, I just want to put on the most exciting fights in Asia. ”
With such lofty expectations it obviously puts the pressure on One FC to deliver in this first show. There’s not much of a learning curve when the bar has been set so high, but Cui doesn’t see it that way.
He looks at this first show as the baby step towards One FC’s eventual evolution as a top flight MMA promotion.
“I don’t see the pressure. I am doing what I love. I have a group of foreign investors with deep pockets that have committed a lot of capital. I’m a kid in a candy store doing what I love. And remember, I’ve put on countless sporting events in my career…so it’s my domain of expertise…I’m in my world here,” Cui stated.
The future for One FC includes 8 more shows that Cui says they’ve already mapped out, but doesn’t want to take the focus away from the first event on Sept 3.
In his words, One FC: Champion vs. Champion will be ‘the day that changed MMA in Asia.”