ONE FC: 8 Reasons Why It Could Be Asia's Answer to the UFC

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2011

ONE FC: 8 Reasons Why It Could Be Asia's Answer to the UFC

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    You recently may have been hearing some buzz about an Asian-based MMA promotion—ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC).

    There are many MMA promotions around the world, but only has the UFC been able to truly generate international appeal.  

    Many of these smaller international promotions do a great job of showcasing grassroots fighters but since the demise of PRIDE, only the UFC has truly been able to generate significant buzz for their fighters outside of the promotion's native country.

    So far, early signs indicate that ONE FC will be able to follow in the UFC's footsteps with a show that truly generates international interest.

    Based out of Singapore, ONE FC will be looking to strongly appeal to the entire Asian continent—a relatively difficult group of markets for native English-speaking executives to penetrate.

    Here are eight reasons that ONE FC could become the UFC of the East. 

Budget

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    Right now it is not entirely clear who the financiers of ONE FC are, but we do know they have plenty of money.

    It is suggested that Middle Eastern investors are heavily involved and ESPN Star Sports (ESPN and Disney's Asia-based sports media empire) is also rumored to have acquired a capital stake.

    And with their considerable capital, ONE FC are not spending it frivolously like some failed upstart promotions of the past.

    Instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on big name fighters outside of the UFC (see the "Affliction" debacle...), ONE FC is focusing on branding themselves in every household in Singapore.

    PR Agents have called ONE FC's advertising launch "One of the most comprehensive marketing campaigns in Asian sporting history." 

    In Singapore the campaign is penetrating TV, cinema, and even outdoor media like buses—thus branding itself into the general population and not just hardcore fans.

TV Deals in Asia

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    ONE FC's TV deal with ESPN Star Sports is an important part of their growth strategy.

    ESPN Star Sports broadcasts to 24 Asian countries and has a potential viewing audience of 300 million people.

    In Singapore, ONE FC will be on domestic TV, bringing the total potential viewing audience up to a staggering 500 million people.

    In terms of Asian broadcast coverage, it looks like ONE FC is head and shoulders above any other MMA promotion.

    The English Premier League (soccer) is considered to be the only sporting event to currently have that kind of coverage in Asia.

Valuable International Exposure for Fighters

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    With ONE FC's exposure and marketing muscle, it is going to be a desirable location to compete for fighters from all over the world.

    Now that the young sport of MMA has its legs underneath it, young upcoming athletes are going to be scouring the globe looking for opportunities to build their career. 

    Japan has a rich history of MMA competition, but their reputation for insulated mismanagement precedes them.

    ONE FC stars can expect their names to appear on giant billboards with their pictures plastered all over Singapore. 

    Whether an Asian-based fighter or otherwise, ONE FC is going to be an attractive place for many fighters to come and build a career.

Asian Competition

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    DREAM is great for a number of reasons, but their target audience is Japan and they do little to think outside of that market.

    Hardcore fans all over the world know about DREAM and try to tune in when they can, but it just does not have the pan-Asian appeal that ONE FC is looking at.

    Outside of hardcore MMA fans, you would be hard-pressed to find people in the Philippines, Singapore or China who even know what DREAM is.

    There are a lot of good shows across Asia that are developing good local followings, but obviously cannot compete with the scope of ONE FC.

    They will, however, potentially serve as excellent feeder promotions for ONE FC to find great up and coming Asian fighters.

Ability to Pull Big Names

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    The most recognizable fight on ONE FC's September 3rd debut event is the showdown between Phil Baroni and Yoshiyuki Yoshida.

    Both are easily recognizable stars in the West and in the East.  Both men have fought for the UFC and both have fought numerous times in Japan.

    What is also important is that they are not overselling the big name fighters.

    Sure, Baroni and Yoshida are the most widely recognized names of the event, but they are not headlining.

    Their role is to attract audiences and provide a high level fight.  Japanese fans like the fight, Western fans are curious, and ONE FC gets a hell of a fight to support their event.

Many Fighters Are Already Stars

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    We might not have known it, but many of ONE FC's fighters are already regional superstars in their own right.

    The likes of Ole Laursen, Eduard Folayang and Mitch Chilson are instantly recognizable in Singapore. Finding headlining fighters that the audience can identify with is important for any MMA show. 

    People in Singapore love Chilson because he has lived and worked there for so many years that they regard him as one of their own; and the fact that he has starred in some major corporate advertising campaigns doesn't do any harm at all.

    They love Folayang because he is a hero in the Philippines and there is a strong Filipino community in Singapore.  Laursen is half-Filipino and is remembered for his Muay Thai background and his epic fight with Eduardo Pachu at Martial Combat.

    Another face to look out for is Eddie Ng (pictured) from Hong Kong.  He has fought in England and is now looking to build his celebrity in Asia. 

CEO Victor Cui

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    Victor Cui was a senior figure at ESPN Star Sports for several years and has previously worked for major sporting events such as the PGA golf tour.

    If you were going to head hunt the perfect person to spear head any new sporting promotion in Asia, Cui's name would feature right at the top of the short list.

    Cui's industry experience is the reason that One FC was able to secure a domestic TV deal in Singapore and the prestigious international broadcast deal with ESPN Star.

    Cui's involvement is also the reason that One FC has already brought in some major sponsors and commercial partners and generated the start-up capital that is has.

    Lots of people want to get into MMA to put on a good show, but you need someone like Cui who has navigated the marketing and sponsorship side of Asian markets to capitalize on such an ambitious vision.

Evolve MMA Is on Their Doorstep

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    Successful fighters come from successful camps and teams.

    Evolve MMA out of Singapore is already shooting up the ranks as one of the best teams in the world.

    Rafael Dos Anjos and Shinya Aoki are the two top guys at present but there is so much talent in every department at Evolve MMA that it is unreal. Aoki is widely regarded as having the best ground game in Asia but after a few days training with the black belts at Evolve MMA he decided to pack his bags and move to Singapore to try and take his grappling to the next level.

    Evolve MMA's policy is simple: get world champions in every discipline and all the fighters will benefit from hitting pads and sparring with Muay thai legends Namsaknoi, Orono Wor Petchpun and Anuwat Kaewsamrit, rolling with BJJ world champions Zorobabel Moreira Jnr and Leandro Issa and working their hands with boxing world champion Yodsanan Sityodtong.

    Evolve MMA's credentials are prestigious and one of the main reasons you have yet heard about some of their fighters is that they are just starting their MMA carers.

    One Fighting Championship is going to give the likes of Yodsanan, Ng, Chilson, Moreira Jnr and Issa the perfect platform to show why Evolve MMA is Asia's No. 1 MMA school.