One FC Builds MMA In Asia, Focusing On China As UFC Moves In Slowly
Singapore-based MMA promotion One Fighting Championship has “quickly grown into a major regional player with its predominantly Asian roster of fighters and consensual approach,” according to the N.Y. TIMES' Christopher Clarey, who wrote under the header, “Promoters Circling One Another As MMA Takes Root In Asia.” One FC’s approach is “pan-Asian,” what Founder & CEO Victor Cui “calls a ‘Champions League’ approach” to MMA. The promotion last year signed a 10-year deal with Fox Star Sports and Cui said that One FC “has 12 events scheduled this year in six Asian countries.” Plans are to double that total next year. Singapore’s “soon-to-be-completed 55,000-seat National Stadium” is “one potential site.” Cui also has “expressed a longer-range desire to move into the Middle East.” Other MMA promotions also are “organizing events in Asia,” including Hong Kong-based Legend Fighting Championship and UFC, which has “had an office in Beijing” since ’10. UFC Exec VP & Asia Managing Dir Mark Fischer: “It’s very new here and in some markets still quite niche, but the growth so far has really been outstanding. Since we set up here about two and a half years ago, we’ve seen MMA gyms popping up everywhere in all the major cities across Asia.” But Clarey reported UFC “action on the ground in Asia has been nonexistent until recently.” It has staged “only three events in the region, but two of those were in Japan and Macau in the last six months.” UFC has “tentative plans to add stops" in Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul and "perhaps other Asian cities in the next year.” Fischer said that market surveys “showed that awareness of the UFC among adults in China’s major cities had increased to 60 percent, from 25 percent, in the last three years.” But Fischer added that the timing was “still not right to stage a full-fledged UFC event in China" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).
THAI ONE ON: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel reports locally based combat sport organization Lion Fight Promotions is “hoping to emerge from UFC’s massive shadow.” Lion Fight is “counting on increased fan interest in the sport of Muay Thai to generate enough revenues by year’s end to let the company break even.” Muay Thai fighting is “similar to UFC battles, but without UFC’s ground fighting, wrestling and grappling.” Lion Fight President & CEO Scott Kent “bought into the sport by investing about $500,000 to start” the company, signing a sports marketing specialist “to find sponsors and joining forces with Mark Cuban’s AXS TV network to broadcast” its fights. Kent’s investors include Las Vegas Harley-Davidson President Don Andress, whose company “will sponsor fight events.” Kent said that he also “enlisted a high-profile investor” in N.Y.-based Fortress Investment Group Founder Wes Edens, and another investor is Ken Gardner, a “former Las Vegas air conditioning company owner” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/20).