Victor Cui continues to push ONE FC into the forefront in not only Asia, but the entire MMA world. Cui is the CEO/owner of the promotion that is based out of Singapore and has already 14 shows since debuting in 2011.
Next up for the promotion is expansion, as Cui wants to make ONE FC bigger and better.
“Our shows have definitely gotten bigger and the media support has also increased phenomenally,” said Cui, during an interview with FightLine. “Currently, we are the only sporting event in Asia that continually sells out stadiums where we go because of our world-class, Vegas-style production.
“We are the No. 1 rated show in the Philippines and we are the biggest show in Asia on Star Sports. The growth in the response to our events has been amazing.”
ONE FC has crowned champions in four weight classes, including Bibiano Fernandes at bantamweight. Nobutatsu Suzuki is the welterweight champion, Shinya Aoki the lightweight titleholder and Koji Oishi the champ at featherweight.
Fernandes is set to defend his title May 2 at ONE FC: Rise of Heroes against Masakatsu Ueda. That is the next show and will see ONE FC head to Pasay City in the Philippines.
“We have 12 events set for 2014, but we might have more,” Cui stated. “We are already working towards penetrating into countries such as Cambodia, China, Korea and Taiwan.”
Proving they have star power, ONE FC signed former Bellator welterweight champion and ex-U.S. Olympic wrestler Ben Askren. He will debut May 30 at ONE FC: Honor and Glory in Singapore against Bakhityar Abbasov and is expected to challenge for the welterweight title if he defeats Abbasov.
“The signing of Ben Askren re-establishes our position as one of the Top-5 MMA promotions in the world,” Cui said. “Both Asian and non-Asian fighters contribute to our growth and establishment as the top MMA promotion in Asia.
“Our Asian fighters are huge, local heroes and they get tremendous support from the home country, which drives a lot of fans and attention to the sport in Asia. Our non-Asian fighters, as well as some Asian fighters, are also international-renowned fighters and having them sign with ONE FC shows the quality of our organization and fights.”
Cui feels that ONE FC brings “the best of the West and the East” together to form a strong MMA promotion.
“We have the best Asian and Western fighters on our roster, and you not only get to see Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing, but you also witness traditional martial arts disciplines such as Kung Fu, Silat and Khmer. ONE FC shows offer a very interesting mix of culture, arts and combat sports in a world-class event.”
Before taking on the challenge of ONE FC, Cui worked with ESPN Star Sports and the PGA Tour, along with the X Games, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and Martial Combat. ONE FC 13: Moment of Truth to close out 2013 drew 16,398 people to the SM Mall of Asia Arena in the Philippines, where they return for ONE FC 14 next month.
Earlier in 2013, they packed almost 16,000 into the same arena.
“Asia itself poses a great opportunity for the growth of MMA as it is the birthplace of various martial arts disciplines,” Cui said. “Our strategy was to take the best practices from the West and the East and create a new distinctly Asian approach to our business. My experience in the industry has also provided me with an opportunity to observe the various organization’s operations and strategies, their key to success and the reasons for failures – which shaped a lot of my business decisions today.
“I also get to meet the best people in the industry and bridge partnerships, with large organizations and blue chip companies. I also have the best people in the organization who does what they do best. Together, as a team, with the sponsors and partners, we continue to work on the right formula and continue to advance. This is only the beginning.”
As for 2014 and beyond, Cui hopes to see expansion with ONE FC.
“I would like ONE FC to make a footing in all the major cities in Asia,” he said, “and we will be looking into expanding to the Middle East, as well.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: sherwin guzman