While ONE FC has increased the awareness of mixed martial arts as a sport, the one thing that pundits have zeroed in is their tag as supposedly biggest fight circuit in Asia.
“How can they claim that when their events are only in Southeast Asia? Southeast Asia isn’t even huge when you consider the landmass that is Asia.”
Victor Cui, ONE FC CEO, is not the man with the plan for nothing. He smiled when I first broached this to him a few months ago. “Patience is a virtue,” he merely said.
Weeks ago while in Singapore for its 16th fight offering, Honor and Glory, I learned that preparations for their first event in Taiwan and Dubai were underway. And just the other day, it was announced that they signed a deal with AMC Live Group to mark their entry into the world’s most populous and second-largest country, China.
In an exclusive interview with the Filipino-Canadian Cui, he revealed that the deal was a long time coming. “This is a monumental agreement that will change MMA forever! I have been working on a China deal for the longest time now while leveraging partners and friends that I made from my past working experience. In the meantime, we have built a solid track record when it comes to MMA. Those two factors paved the way for a relationship with AMC Live Group that have built a solid reputation on staging events featuring world-class and local acts such as Elton John, Faye Wong, Eason Chan, Jay Chou and Stefanie Sun in China. And we will be bringing the kind of quality and world-class action that ONE FC is known for to over a billion Chinese people.”
Added Cui: “It will be a massive feat for ONE FC as we will become the first world-class mixed martial arts organization ever to hold an event in mainland China. And it is only natural as China has a rich martial arts history being the birthplace of kung fu, sanda and wushu to name a few fight disciplines. Right now, we are working on a television deal as well as signing the top Chinese fighters so we will be making announcements regarding these matters very soon.”
As the plans get underway for ONE FC’s China debut, the planned fight in Dubai is reportedly gaining ground with top Filipino fighter Eduard Folayang said to be tabbed for the event. According to ONE FC sources, this will happen around August and right before its triumphant return to Manila where they have had the highest recorded attendances.
In a conversation with Folayang during ONE FC: Honor and Glory last month while he worked in the corner of Team Lakay colleague Honorio Banario, he welcomed the expansion into other territories. “The exposure to new environments, cultures, and fighters will only help Filipinos. They have different approaches to the sport and sometimes, we think that what we know is enough but it is not. This will only make us better fighters in the future.”
When asked about finally staging promotion in Japan during the recent Singapore event, Cui remained tight-lipped but gave a teasing in reply.