ONE Fighting Championship today made an announcement which will potentially change the face of Asian MMA forever. In a statement ONE FC revealed that it had signed exclusive partnerships with the following organizations:
URCC (Philippines), Cage Fighting Championship (Australia), ROAD Fighting Championship (Korea), Team Lakay Wushu (Philippines), Tiger Muay Thai and MMA (Thailand), Tigers Gym (India), Evolve Mixed Martial Arts (Singapore), Legacy Gym (Thailand), Tough MMA (Taiwan), Synergy Jiu-Jitsu (Indonesia), Juggernaut FC (Singapore), Fightworks Asia (Singapore), PAK MMA (Pakistan), Team Force (Korea), MuayFit (Malaysia), Leverage MMA (Malaysia)
So what does this announcement, which comes hot on the heels of the news that ONE FC had booked 2012 shows in Indonesia, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, mean in practise? CEO / Owner Victor Cui outlined the benefits which such a large conglomerate would have for MMA in the region,
"Our goal is to unify Asian MMA and to build the sport that we all love dearly. With today’s announcement, many of the top MMA organizations and gyms in Asia have joined hands. We will be announcing another 23 additional MMA organizations and gyms to the ONE FC Network in the coming days and weeks."
"These strong partnerships will help to accelerate the development of Asian fighters and the sport of MMA in the region. Asian fighters need platforms to gain invaluable experience and to showcase their skills to the world."
"If you are an MMA gym, it will give your gym a turbo boost in terms of access to all the major shows in Asia for your professional fighters. If you are part of the ONE FC network, you will be offered plenty more fighting and sponsorship opportunities across Asia and, of course, the media broadcast reach of all the combined Asian shows together will be excellent for recognition for your fighters and your gym."
"If you are a ONE FC fighter, you will automatically be able to compete in the biggest MMA events across Asia within the ONE FC Network. If you are a sponsor, you will be able to leverage and target your sponsorship dollars across multiple platforms. If you are a fan, you will enjoy many more high quality MMA shows around Asia. Ultimately, as it continues to grow, the ONE FC Network will multiply in benefits for all parties involved."
It is a revolutionary approach from ONE FC. A lot of MMA promotions regard absolutely everyone else as competition and look to monopolize the market and jealously protect their brand by stockpiling contracted fighters ONE FC is taking a far more inclusive attitude and are looking to work with all the key stakeholders in Asia, be they promotions, camps, fans or fighters.
The benefits of this deal are already palpable with One FC fighters Vuyisile Colossa and Brian Choi both booked to appear on Road FC 5 this December. That card is taking place at the 7,000 capacity Jangchung Gymnasium in Seoul and looks set to be the biggest in the promotion’s history. For fighters like Colossa and Choi it is a valuable opportunity to gain experience and get a payday in the process while fans in Korea get a glimpse at some internationally renowned fighters.
Any fighter falling under the ONE FC umbrella will be available to fight on five different promotions, putting on potentially 35 events between them in 2012. Whereas in the past mixed martial artists in Asia have been frustrated by the lack of opportunities they will now have the ability to fight as often as they like by moving between these different promotions without fear of contractual complications.
Fighters will also have an added incentive to fight for Cage Fighting Championships, Road FC, URCC and Dare Championships because they know that success in these domestic organizations will provide them with a direct route into ONE FC.
This deal should also help the individual gyms, promotions and fighters make money, something which hasn’t traditionally been easy in Asian MMA, because they will all automatically have a direct line to the official ONE FC sponsors.
It will also make Asian MMA a much more attractive market place for potential sponsors and companies looking to get involved in the sport because they will have access to a multitude of camps, promoters and fighters through the ONE FC network. In the past doing deals with people in so many different countries and cultures would have been a painstaking process involving extensive travel and translators but now ONE FC’s head office in Singapore will effectively be a one stop shop for all their sponsorship needs.
Fighters at the camps which are part of the ONE FC Network will not have to worry about agents or politics or the red tape which sometimes prevents fighters from earning their living by actually fighting. Instead they will be automatically eligible for five different promotions and will have the security of knowing that certain standards will be observed in terms of things like fighter safety and actually getting paid at the end of the night.
Other Asian promotions will benefit from becoming part of a ONE FC network which will allow them to leverage capital, sponsors, media, and fighter opportunities. For example, URCC is now able to offer its top fighters a chance to fight internationally on any of the major events in the ONE FC network. Additionally with co-promotions each promotion will be able to benefit from a lower cost structure with shared resources. The ONE FC network effectively creates immediate economies of scale and economies of scope for all the players within it.
Cui was also quick to emphasize that further deals were in the pipeline and that the door was not closed to anyone wishing to join the ONE FC Network’. ONE FC also say they have now signed 90% of Asia's top fighters (outside of Japan) and an announcement about this is imminent.
Sports fans in the US seem to be fond of using the expression ‘game changer.' Well for Asian MMA this truly is a game changer.