I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Looking back at old times always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Since I love reminiscing the past, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you that I love that picture that sits at the top of this article. It was taken almost one year ago at the first ever ONE FC press conference.
It was when ONE Fighting Championship was beginning its quest to bring back martial arts to Asia in the grandest fashion possible and to ignite the Bushido spirit of best mixed martial artists from around Asia. ONE FC had a very bold goal and it was simply to be the biggest and best mixed martial arts promotion in Asia.
The beginning: The start of something big
“For lack of a better analogy, One Fighting Championship is the UFC of Asia, but with a focus on the best Asian fighters.”
Those were the words of CEO and owner of ONE FC, Victor Cui. At that time, Cui was a man not known well by the general public but was looked up upon by his peers in the media industry for his accomplishments in it, especially for his involvement with ESPN.
Armed with 15 years of sports media experience, playing an integral role in events such as the Olympics, the X Games and the PGA Tour, and a with a keen sense of business, Cui set out on his quest to dominate the Asian MMA scene with ONE FC’s inaugural show, Champion vs Champion.
The show was scheduled for the 3rd of September 2011 at Singapore’s largest venue, the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Despite it being ONE FC’s first event, the event was one of the biggest events ever held outside of Japan. It boasted some of the hottest mixed martial artists in Asia such as Eduard Folayang, Zorobabel Moreira, Eric Kelly, Mitch Chilson, Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Eddie Ng.
The media attention that it got was unheard of from any other MMA promotion in Asia, let alone one that was having its first show. The event went on to become a resounding success, getting praise from not only the biggest MMA news outlets such as Sherdog, MMA Fighting, Cagepotato and MMA Junkie but from mainstream media as well.
Not only did ONE FC get its foot in the door of Asian MMA, it completely kicked the door down while doing it. It was obvious that ONE Fighting Championship was here to stay.
The present: Becoming the best in Asia
Fast forward 11 months to where we are now. Since ONE FC made its first appearance in the Asian MMA scene it has grown at a rate unimaginable by practically every single person in the MMA industry (we’re sure the guys up North know what’s going on too).
Firstly, ONE FC has managed to put together some of the best fights with the most exciting fighters Asia has seen recently on any show. Its Destiny of Warriors event last night was a perfect example of a card full of exciting and evenly matched fights. That together with the most exciting rule set seen in Asia and arguably, the whole industry, ONE FC events have become a good buy for MMA fans who want to see action.
ONE FC boasts the largest roster of fighters, with names such as Renato Sobral, Shinya Aoki, Ole Laursen, Zorobabel Moreira, Eduard Folayang, Eddie Ng and the list goes on and on. All their fighters are exclusive to either the ONE FC or the ONE FC Network.
Who can also forget that ONE FC has the greatest media reach of any Asian MMA promotion today? With the unprecedented 10 year partnership with ESPN, ONE FC will be available across 28 countries and be seen by 500 million homes across Asia. Not only is ONE FC broadcasted to these countries, they will also most likely be taking their live shows to these countries as well.
ONE FC is the only Asian MMA promotion to have live shows around Asia and not just a focus on a domestic market. With successful shows done in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia and with the next planned for the Philippines, we see the promotion spreading its brand across Asia in no time. It’s also no surprise that ONE FC has the best production in Asian MMA for their shows, especially in its War of the Lions and last night’s Destiny of Warriors event. What’s even better is that the production level is constantly improving with each and every show.
ONE FC has also managed to get the biggest sponsors such as Sony, Energizer, Schick, Carl’s Jr, Fairtex, etc. There isn’t any other Asian MMA promotion out there that’s managed to woo such big corporate sponsors and get these big companies to put their faith in them. These big name sponsors, together with some rumored deep pocket share holders, definitely make ONE FC the promotion with the most capital in Asia. With all that being said, it’s pretty obvious that in less than a year, ONE FC has become the no.1 Mixed Martial Arts promotion in Asia.
The Future: ONE FC vs UFC
It’s amazing that ONE FC has achieved as much as it has in such a short period of time. It’s become the no.1 promotion in Asia and judging by all the achievements above, many already consider it the no.2 promotion in the world just behind the UFC. It’s been said that the MMA world will have 2 super powers, much like the “normal” world has China and the USA.
In the world of MMA there will be UFC in the west and ONE FC in the east. It’s something that we strongly believe in as well. We believe that both brands will own their respective markets but with the recent attention that ONE FC is getting from the west, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that ONE FC will not only be seen as an Asian brand, it will be a global brand just like the UFC.
Before the appearance of ONE FC and the formation of the ONE FC Network, the Asian MMA scene was seen as being 10 years behind the North American one. However, now, with the growth of ONE FC, Victor Cui, together with other industry leaders, have said many times that they see the industry growing exponentially. The Asian MMA industry might catch up with the North American scene in between 4 to 6 years.
ONE FC certainly has all the tools to go head to head with the UFC. As mentioned earlier, ONE FC has an outstanding media reach across Asia, reaching 500 million homes. Furthermore, with 60% of the world’s population being in Asia (approximately 4 billion people),
ONE FC has a much larger market to work on than the UFC had when it first started in North America. The potential for growth is huge both in terms of fan base and revenue for the promotion. Couple that with fans worldwide who are looking for an alternative to the UFC, the ONE FC brand will be huge.
While we do think that it will be a battle between the two brands, one from the east and the other from the west, we do see both promotions co-existing. To use an analogy, both the ONE FC and the UFC are like 2 flavors of ice cream. ONE FC can be chocolate ice cream and UFC can be vanilla ice cream.
They both have their merits and are fantastic in their own right but the different flavors provide the consumers variety. It’s a win-win situation for the fans as they get to see 2 promotions with 2 different rule sets and they get to see fighters who display different kinds of martial arts.
Let’s be frank, we don’t think you’ll see Silat ever being used in the UFC. With a roster that is 95% made up of Asian and/or Asian based fighters, ONE FC is tailor made for the Asian audience while with a roster that is 95% made up of Caucasian fighters, the UFC is tailor made for the western audience. You could even go as far as to say that both will complement each other and help the sport grow worldwide.
The plan that Victor Cui had when he first started this journey has been executed extremely well. He’s already made ONE FC the best in Asia and he’s close to making it no.2 in the world, all in less than 1 year. It’s amazing how much things has changed and the company, as well as the sport, has evolved and grown this past few months. It’s inspiring to look back and reminisce on it but you can’t help but look forward and think how big ONE FC will be in the near future.