ONE FC’s Victor Cui Discusses Promotion’s “Gigantic Advantage,” Possibility of U.S. Show and Free Agent Eddie Alvarez
By Kelsey Mowatt
With the announcement this week that ONE FC has partnered with the Malaysian telecommunications company Tune Talk, it’s another indication that the Asian promotion is taking steps to become a considerable presence in the MMA world. Not only has 2012 seen ONE FC promote five more shows, but the organization has secured various sponsorships and agreements with companies like SONY, Energizer and Schick.
Due to ONE FC’s 2012 campaign, some observers have been prompted to wonder whether a new MMA giant could be on the rise, reminiscent of the storied and now defunct PRIDE. While ONE FC may be making some headway throughout Asian markets, it doesn’t appear that the organization plans to attempt an expansion into North America–as PRIDE did– anytime soon.
“Our focus is on Asia,” ONE FC CEO Victor Cui told Full Contact Fighter, when asked if the promotion may look to host a show in the U.S., as PRIDE did in 2006 and 2007. “Of course I want to make sure our fans in North America are always taken care of. That’s why I try to bring in other international stars that are household names in the States or North America, so that there’s another catchpoint that makes our show exciting for them.”
While PRIDE held nearly every one of its events in Japan, ONE FC has already hosted cards in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to date.
“We’re based in Asia, and what people don’t realize is that we have two billion people on one time zone,” Cui furthered about the organization, which has a broadcast deal in place for the region with ESPN Star Sports. “There’s nowhere else in the world where you’ve got two billion people on one time zone, but I’ve got my show across Asia. It’s a gigantic advantage. Unfortunately for North America fans they have to get up at seven or eight AM to watch our shows live, and I know that’s a challenge, but right now we want to focus on this region.”
PRIDE had been in operations for nearly ten years before it elected to host an event in Las Vegas, but Cui says U.S. expansion isn’t part of ONE FC’s current business plan, even if it continues to grow for the next couple of years.
“Not for now,” said Cui. “You never know, if we had a sponsor, like if maybe SONY said “hey, we want you to go in the U.S.”, we might do that, but for now, the focus is here.”
As Cui mentioned, ONE FC has signed established international and UFC vets like Phil Baroni, Jens Pulver, and Andrei Arlovski among others, as a means to attract fans in North America and around the world. This past summer the organization made headlines when DREAM champion Bibiano Fernandes elected to sign with ONE FC rather than the UFC.
One of the sport’s top free agents currently, is former Bellator lightweight Eddie Alvarez, who is expected to attract interest from the UFC as well as his former, now Viacom backed former employer.
“I’m always looking for top talent and top fighters,” said Cui, when asked if ONE FC could be another party that may bid on the services of Alvarez. “Roger Huerta and Bibiano Fernandes are really good examples, but most importantly, Roger has made his home here in Asia, he lives out here and that’s important to me. That means fans can reach him, he’s closer to work with, and people that want to build their career and fan base out here in Asia is key to a successful partnership and why I would look to sign a fighter.”
“I would say that when you list top exciting fighters in the world, chances are we are already talking to them,” Cui stated, when asked directly whether ONE FC has contacted Alvarez.
Cui also relayed that ONE FC has had discussions with PRIDE vet Denis Kang, who DREAM recently announced will fight Melvin Manhoef at their New Year’s Eve show in Saitama, Japan.
“Denis Kang has had a number of conversations with us and being part of ONE FC,” said Cui. “He’s under contract with one our partners, which is ROAD FC in South Korea, or he was at that time and he was booked on those events, but we are still in discussion.”
Stay tuned to Full Contact Fighter for more from ONE FC’s Victor Cui.