After stepping in to rescue December's DREAM 18 event, GLORY today further demonstrated its desire to jump on the Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) bandwagon by signing up to the ONE FC Network and booking Bibiano Fernandes and Shinya Aoki for the Saitama Super Arena on New Year's Eve.
The ONE FC Network is an unprecedented partnership consisting of the largest promotions, most prominent gyms and the best fighters in Asia and GLORY will be joining DREAM, DEEP, Road FC, URCC and CFC by signing up, with the most immediate benefit coming in the form of the availability of Fernandes and Aoki.
Aoki is the DREAM lightweight champion (although in a largely symbolic move he handed back the belt after signing for ONE FC) and Fernandes is the reigning bantamweight belt holder and former featherweight champion. Both are signed exclusively to ONE FC but when CEO / Owner Victor Cui invited GLORY to join the ONE FC Network, the kickboxing promotion gained access to all the fighters on the various rosters of the organizations already in it.
ONE FC has grown to become universally regarded as the leading MMA promotion in Asia in a very short space of time and this success has been in no small part due to the power of the ONE FC Network. Eduard Folayang and Eric Kelly have come from URCC, Soo Chul Kim and Bae Young Kwon have joined from Road FC while DREAM and DEEP fighters such as Tatsuya Kawajiri and Yoshiyuki Nakanishi have also appeared on cards.
While GLORY is primarily a kickboxing organization, the early indications are that ONE FC has no interest in promoting fights in anything under its current format, which combines the unified rules of MMA and the PRIDE rules inside a circular cage. Although if the likes of Sammy Schilt and Remy Bonjasky did decide they wanted to transition to MMA, the relationship between the two promotions should allow them to do so seamlessly.
Interestingly both GLORY and ONE FC are headquartered in Singapore which perhaps contributed to some colorful rumours which emanated earlier this month suggesting that the kickboxing organization was in talks to purchase the MMA promotion.
This appears to have been little more than salacious gossip but with GLORY seemingly intent on putting MMA fights on future cards there should be plenty of opportunity for fighters currently signed to promotions and gyms within the ONE FC Network to follow in the footsteps of Fernandes and Aoki by getting to fight under the GLORY banner.
Aoki's opponent is widely reported as being 7-0 American Will Brooks although this has not been officially confirmed. There are still plenty of MMA fights still to be announced on the DREAM 18 / GLORY 4 card and it is possible that some more fighters from within the ONE FC Network will be invited to take part.
At present the card looks like this:
DREAM 18 / GLORY 4, Saitama Super Arena, December 31st, 2012
Shinya Aoki vs Will Brooks
Bibiano Fernandes vs TBA
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs TBA
Satoru Kitaoka vs TBA
GLORY Grand Slam Tournament:
Semmy Schilt vs Brice Guidon
Sergei Kharitonov vs Rico Verhoeven
Gokhan Saki vs Raomoru
Anderson "Braddock" Silva vs Igor Jurkovic
Remy Bonjasky vs Filip Verlinden
Errol Zimmerman vs Jamal Ben Saddick
Peter Aerts vs Mourad Bouzidi
Daniel Ghita vs Fabiano Aoki
Stay tuned for more details on this upcoming event as they become available.