ONE FC CEO / Owner Victor Cui is of Filipino descent and he is returning to his roots in some style by putting on a show at the 16,500 capacity Aranata Coliseum this August. Tomorrow is the official press conference and Cui took a few moments to talk to MMA Mania in Manila and confirm some of the matchups.
He says that even after conducting extensive market research to establish that an event in the biggest indoor arena in the country would be viable the level of interest in ONE FC has still taken him by surprise,
"It has been overwhelming, ONE FC has already been to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia but I have never experienced anything on this scale. The press conference is going to be packed, and right now my team is struggling to find a way to fit all the journalists, photographers and TV and radio reporters who have said they are coming into one room!"
Among the fighters in attendance will be Shinya Aoki, Andrei Arlovski and Bibiano Fernandes and Cui confirmed that the Brazilian would be going up against Gustavo Falciroli, although he wouldn't go into any more detail about the makeup of the card,
"Falciroli is CFC bantamweight champion and Fernandes is DREAM bantamweight champion and when I set up the ONE FC Network these are exactly the sort of matchups I wanted to make. The champion from the biggest promotion in Australia and the champion from the biggest promotion in Japan are going head to head and it's going to be a great fight for the Filipino fans."
Cui is confidently predicting a sell out and thinks that fight fans in the Philippines will be unable to resist the opportunity to see the likes of Aoki, Arlovski, Fernandes and Sobral do battle in the venue where Joe Frazier once fought Muhammad Ali,
"Tickets don't go on sale until tomorrow but the volume of people emailing ONE FC and asking about buying tickets has been so huge that it's been impossible to reply to them all individually. The Philippines has one of the biggest and best MMA fanbases in the world, people here are passionate about the sport and have been watching it on TV for years but they have never had the chance to see DREAM champions, former UFC champions and guys that are MMA legends go head to head before."
After working as a Senior Director at ESPN Star Sports for the best part of a decade Cui has travelled all over Asia and seen numerous sporting events but said nothing in his experience has ever enjoyed the same sort of growth as MMA currently is,
"It is phenomenal, a few years ago places like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia had little to no MMA events but now ONE FC can go there and fill the biggest arenas in the country. This is the first time we have ever put on an event in the Philippines and already we are looking at having to turn media away from the press conference. Imagine what it is going to be like when ONE FC has put on two or three successful events here?"
"Most of the media want to talk to Aoki or Arlovski or Fernandes because they have never had the chance to meet a former UFC heavyweight champion or a DREAM champion but the fans are all coming up to me and asking me 'who is Eduard Folayang fighting' and 'do you really think Eric Kelly can beat Jens Pulver' these guys are already heroes here, Filipino people love nothing more than to get behind a homegrown fighter and ONE FC are fortunate to have so many good Filipino fighters on our roster."
The press conference gets underway at 2pm tomorrow afternoon while ONE FC: 'Pride of a Nation' is taking place on August 31st at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila.