The Marina Bay Sands is an icon of the Singapore skyline, standing majestically over the Singapore River. It is the playground of Asia’s rich and famous and it is a must-visit destination for every tourist. But over the weekend, a secret gathering was taking place. The name of the gathering was known as the ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) MMA Summit 2012, and the agenda, Asian MMA.
The ONE FC network is the most ambitious MMA project ever created.
Top promotions like Dream, Dare, Cage Fighting Championship and Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) have agreed to come together to share fighters and co-promote under the ONE FC name to further the growth of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the region.
It is the dream of Victor Cui, who believes there is huge growth potential in the most populous continent. He cites the mainstream sponsors who are willing to use ONE FC to endorse their brand, as well as a historic 10-year deal with ESPN STAR Sports that is the largest media deal in Asian broadcast history as examples of companies who believe that ONE FC can one day grow to rival the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
How to grow MMA in Asia was one of the main agendas of the gathering, with Chatri Sityodtong, founder of Evolve MMA, Jessica Aguilar, co-founder of URCC and Luke Pezzutti, promoter of Cage Fighting Championship on hand to discuss the topic.
Jessica Aguilar was proud to point out URCC became the longest running Asian MMA organization, overtaking Pride which had the shelf life of nine-plus years. With ONE FC, URCC champions like Kevin Belingon and Eduard Folayang have been able to showcase their skills on a larger platform, with varying levels of success. With the continued growth of MMA in Asia, she believes that a Filipino MMA superstar can be created without having to fight in one of the major promotions in America.
Luke Pezzutti, who has seen UFC fighters James Te Huna, Hector Lombard, Kyle Noke and Brian Ebersole emerge from his promotion, believes that for MMA to be truly accepted by the mainstream, there needs to be a "grass roots" amateur association that will help regulate and monitor the sports growth.
Moon Hong Jung, with his limited grasp of English, is thankful for the ONE FC network to give him an opportunity to showcase Korean fighters, which is the purpose the ex-fighter created Road FC for.
Chatri Sityodtong, has made Evolve one of the top MMA gyms in a short period of time, and he believes that Asian MMA as a whole can do the same. He made a spirited presentation, using a childhood story of how a frog that always lived in a coconut shell finally realizing there was so much more to see and do when the coconut shell was lifted as an analogy of how much Asian MMA can still grow.
However, he also said that for the growth to happen, everybody in the community has to conduct itself professionally, and with ethics. He concluded by confidently declaring, “Like Apple in the west and Samsung in the east, like General Motors in the west and Toyota in the east, one day I believe we can have two MMA superpowers with UFC in the west and ONE FC in the east.”
Gerald Ng is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.