ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions is set for the Beijing Olympic Stadium Gymnasium this Friday night and will be the promotion’s first ever foray into mainland China following a successful event in Taiwan earlier this year.
There is also a ONE FC event scheduled for Guangzhou in South China on Feb. 6, which means that Victor Cui’s organization will be putting on two shows in the same country in the space of just seven weeks.
While ONE FC has already held successful events in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Dubai, and Cambodia, none of these places has ever played host to more than two cards in a calendar year.
The speed with which ONE FC is expanding its schedule in China is unprecedented for the promotion and, a couple of days out from the first Beijing card, Cui took time to explain why he is currently putting so much focus on this particular country.
“China is one of the biggest potential markets for mixed martial arts in the world and ONE Fighting Championship will work together with some of the biggest power players in China to establish mixed martial arts in the country. There is so much potential in China and the anticipation among fans, media, and partners here is astronomical.”
That means a specific strategy for China which is going to be dramatically different from anything the organization is doing elsewhere. With the exception of Dubai, all of ONE FC’s events to date have taken place in the capital of a country, but Cui plans to put on shows in multiple Chinese cities.
“We are going to do ten shows in ten different cities in China in 2015 alone. The market demand for world class sports entertainment there is at an all-time high and some of the tier two cities have a population of 15 million, which is bigger than most capitals in the world.”
ONE FC’s inaugural event took place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in September 2011 and signaled the start of a new era in Asian MMA. Since then the sport has expanded rapidly across the region and Cui expects to have a similar impact on the Chinese scene.
“If you take a look at how ONE FC has revolutionized the sport in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and Dubai, you can expect to see a similar growth pattern in China. When we had our first ONE FC event in Singapore, we saw the potential of the sport and today MMA is one of the top mainstream sports in the country with blue-chip partners and massive media coverage, while the number of gyms and mixed martial artists has increased tenfold.”
Friday night’s card gives a glimpse into ONE FC’s strategy for the Chinese market as it consists mainly of local fighters with two of the country’s top bantamweights set to face off in the main event.
It’s unusual for ONE FC matchmakers to put two fighters from the same country in the cage together and Cui says that showcasing the top local talent is going to be key to his promotion’s success in China.
“We want to bring together the best of the East and the best of the West and ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions reflects that. We are bringing global champions to compete on the same card alongside the best mixed martial arts talents to ever emerge from China, and these stars in China will now get the opportunity to showcase their skills on a global platform.”
Cui says he is close to announcing a major TV deal in China, but as he looks ahead to a 2015 that will include multiple events in the most populous country on the planet, the ONE FC CEO took time to reflect back on an extremely productive year for his promotion.
“ONE FC continues to beat even the boldest of predictions with yet another year of exponential growth. The year has seen ONE FC expand its roster, increase its events, form key partnerships, increase media coverage, and continue to put on even better shows for the viewer. ONE FC is now the largest sports media property in Asia and early indications suggest that we will see even greater growth in 2015.”
(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)