ONE FC’s Victor Cui Already Looking to 2014: “We’re Going to Launch 24 Events Right Across Asia”
CEO Discusses Agreement With GLORY, Expanding Into Japan
By Kelsey Mowatt
With 2012 coming to an end, ONE FC is closing the books on it’s second year of operations, which saw the promotion hold five events, sign several established fighters like Bibiano Fernandes and Andrei Arlovski, and secure more sponsorships. Although ONE FC’s third year is set to begin in just a couple of weeks, the promotion’s CEO Victor Cui reports that they’re already looking well beyond that.
“For me and our team, we’re done with 2013, our planning is done and now it’s just about execution,” Cui told Full Contact Fighter recently. “We’re already focused on our 2014 calendar where we’re going to launch 24 events right across Asia. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”
News of the expanded schedule for the promotion comes at a time, where at least in North America, concerns have been raised as to whether too many events are being held, and that as result, fan interest may be waning.
“We’ve grown so quickly that we are looking at bigger and bigger venues,” Cui noted. “We’re going to be at a 15,000 seat stadium when we’re here in Malaysia. Our event in Manila we sold out 16,000 seats; we sold out in Singapore and we continue to grow in that respect.”
Cui also cited the organization’s growing television broadcast audience, strong television ratings and sponsorship base as further reasons why ONE FC has plans to expand. Recently the promotion tweeted that it controlled “90% of the market share in Asia”, due to ONE FC’s network of partnerships and fighter roster.
Of course, the UFC has also made it clear that they plan to expand operations in Asia, and have increased the promotion’s presence there with recent cards in Macau and Japan. Not long ago, Glory Sports International announced that it was reviving the DREAM brand, and the European based organization has signed several big names to compete on its upcoming New Year’s Eve event.
“Well, I can’t talk about the other guys, I can only talk about my plan,” said Cui, when asked about the prospects of competing organizations in the region. “What we’ve done is locked down the market in terms of the top talent here. Around 90% of the top talent because of the ONE FC network. We’ve got exclusive partnerships with every major MMA gym in Asia, so that gives us first pick of any top talent being developed in those gyms…we’re looking at talent that’s being developed long before they ever go pro.”
To date, ONE FC has held events in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, but not the historically MMA rich nation of Japan, where the UFC and DREAM continue to operate.
“Eventually we will hold an event in Japan but the focus for us right now is the rest of Asia,” said Cui. “There’s just so much more out there. You know? For me, it’s just as interesting to see the new fans that we’re making, where they’ve never been introduced to the sport inside of Asia before.”
Recently, Glory Sports International and ONE FC announced that they had entered into a fighter sharing agreement, and the results of that deal is already becoming evident. For example, Bibiano Fernandes–who signed with ONE FC earlier in the year and fought for the organization in August–will take on Yoshiro Maeda at DREAM’s New Year’s Eve show.
“The philosophy that I’ve always run ONE FC with is a distinctly Asian approach to doing business,” Cui noted about the agreement with GLORY. “That means I have looked to be collaborative with other promotions here in the region. That’s what we have with the ONE FC network; we’ve brought every major promotion together so that we can grow the business exponentially.”
“You’re talking about a population base of 3.9 billion people out here in Asia. There’s a lot of people, a lot of fans to make,” Cui added. “If they hold more events in Japan that’s great. It’s great for the sport.”