AddictedMMA Exclusive With One FC CEO Victor Cui
As the head of the largest and fastest growing MMA promotion in Asia, Cui has taken a project and grown it into what can only be called a giant in the Asian MMA market. With massive television deals allowing One FC to be available to hundreds of millions of people, One FC is preparing for it's fourth show, titled One FC: Destiny of Warriors, set to take place June 23rd, live from the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
JZ - Before we get started, I must give a big thank you to Victor Cui for taking the time to speak with AddictedMMA. How are you doing Victor?
VC - I'm doing very well. Thank you for your time, it's my pleasure.
JZ - Wonderful. Now first off for the fans that don't know much about One FC or yourself, can you tell us a little bit about the promotion and yourself?
VC - Sure. I am actually Chinese/Filipino, born in Canada, Edmonton, Alberta is my hometown. I have been living out here in Asia for the last seven years. I've been in the sports media industry for about fifteen years, and I have worked on everything from world championships, the Olympics, Commonwealth games, the PGA Tour, and spent the last six and a half years with ESPN before launching One Fight Championship. One FC is Asia's largest MMA event and we have an unprecedented broadcast reach for all of our shows for the entire year on ESPN and Star Sports. It is a ten year deal and we reach over five hundred million people in twenty eight countries.
JZ - You touched on my next question above, but you have been involved in many promotions and sporting events worldwide over your career. In 2010 however, you ran a MMA promotion called Martial Combat. How did being involved with Martial Combat prepare you for taking the next step and building One FC?
VC - Martial Combat was a small pilot project that was born while I was under ESPN. It was in a casino, really made for casino clients. It was the first regional type on MMA event that was happening in Asia, but without the budged that One FC now has. That was the start of building relationships with fighters, gym owners and people in the industry that I continue to talk with today.
JZ - Now One FC's next event is coming up on June 23rd in Malaysia, and as always, the card is filled with world class talent. Fighters like Sobral, Huerta, Imanari, and the usual collection of Asian talent. So with that said, what are the expectations you have for both the fans watching the event, and the expectations One FC has for itself for the card?
VC - Thanks for that shout out, because I'm pretty excited for this card. It gives the fans a chance to see Babalu fight again, against Tatsuya Mizuna, a DREAM light heavyweight Grand Prix finalist. We've got Imanari going up against (Leonardo) Issa, which is just a fantastic fight. Also, we have Gregor Gracie against Malaysian fighter, Adam Kayoon, who is world BJJ and Muay Thai champion. So we have a lot of interesting fights on the card. You also mentioned Huerta, who is taking on Zorobabel Moreira.
JZ - Sounds like a great night indeed. I'm sure most MMA fans have heard the recent news regarding DREAM, who shut the doors lately as a MMA promotion. That obviously leaves a huge opening for promotions such as One FC to acquire some of the DREAM roster. So just how active is One FC currently regarding certain, or any, former DREAM talent?
VC - Well DREAM was a promotion that we already had a partnership with. Several DREAM fighters had already competed under the One FC banner since we began. I wouldn't say going after is the right word though. One FC is in constant communication with top fighters all over the world anyway, and luckily enough, a lot of the Asian talent really wants to fight on the biggest MMA show, which is One FC over here. So they have been reaching out to us.
JZ - You mentioned that One FC is always scoping the world for talent for its events, but with DREAM having a deal in place with both Strikeforce and Bellator already, has One FC ever entertained the thought of reaching a similar deal with any promotion now, North American or otherwise?
VC - Well we did have the talent exchange deal with DREAM in place, and co-promotion is an interesting thing, but it is always very difficult to make happen. It is a complicated process to go through.
JZ - Very true. Now with One FC being the largest Asian promotion going now, how do you see it going from a fan aspect and also from a business aspect? From how it was when One FC started to now?
VC - I think from a fans point of view, it's the first time Asian fans are getting a chance to see the best fight against the best. We are taking about the Philippine champion against the Korean champion, the Australian champion against the Japanese champion. All the countries and partners we have can now send their best to One FC to compete on a regional level with the television deals and global audience we have being able to witness it all. So from that perspective, we have given fans literally the best of the best. Matching different organizations champions against each other is exciting. I mean, what fight fan doesn't want to see the best against the best?
In terms of our growth and where we are at. The fan support and the fighter support, the media support as well, has been outstanding. It's been incredible to get hundreds of emails a day on my Facebook page each day from fans that are supportive of One FC and what we want to do, and they want to be a part of the events. It is an exciting time right now. Going city to city, this year we are holding eight events, and next year we plan on holding eighteen events right across the region.
JZ - Again, that touches on my next question. One FCs plans for expanding and holding more shows, traveling to new cities, and new regions across Asia, is that all part of the future?
VC - Yes. Eight events this year, and growing to eighteen events next year. It is basically nine cities we will be going to twice over the year. We would do more if we could, because we have venues and cities that want to partner with us and want us to go there, but at this time, it is already a very hectic schedule.
JZ - Now over here in North America, a huge issue lately has been in regards to referees and judges at events. With One FC still being fairly new to the MMA scene, are issues that seem to plague events here something that possible has One FC worried about fan reaction? Your last event have two matches in which some minor issues came up at the end of the match and led to some negative reaction from fans.
VC - Which ones where you talking about?
JZ - The two were the Manhoef/Nakanishi fight and the Folayang/Laursen fight.
VC - The Manhoef/Nakanishi fight was stopped due to cuts on both men, so that wasn't really something that could be controlled. And the Folayang/Laursen fight went to a decision, and it was an excellent decision. The challenge is that both fighters are going to have big fan followings, and either camp is going to be disappointed when it goes to a decision. I was actually surprised it went to a decision, as I was expecting a finish from one of the men.
But for our rule set, we worked with the legendary Matt Hume. He is an outstanding leader in MMA history when it comes to establishing rules and officiating. As well as Yuji Shamada, they set up all the rules for Pride and for DREAM, so they have been working with us, and they bring an incredible amount of knowledge of the sport. They have been instrumental in making sure we implement safety standards and judging standards of the highest caliber across the board. Our rules are a mix of east and west, taking rules from both Pride and the unified rules. All of those are coordinated with Matt Hume and with our judges.
JZ - Now our final question is something you may or may not be able to get into too much detail with, but it concerns Bibiano Fernandes. Last week it was announced that he had signed a deal with the UFC and was to fight at UFC 149, but when he was pulled from the card, he made a statement saying he had not signed with the UFC, only received an offer from them, and that One FC had also made him an offer as well. Can you shed any light on any possible progress being made with Bibiano now, or is it simply a matter of waiting until he decides what he is going to do?
VC - (Laughing) That was all very interesting because it was news to me as well. I hadn't heard about any of that, but those are the challenges with such a large organization. Everyone wants to fight on One FC's cards, and people are saying different things. But that was the first time I had really heard about what was going on.
JZ - Ok, so just to clarify, One FC hasn't been in talks with Fernandes?
VC - All the former DREAM fighters we have a relationship with. We always talk about if a fighter would want to fight for One FC, or what their plans are, if they are coming into the region. Those kind of discussion happen with all the fighters, whether they are in the Asian MMA circuit or otherwise.
JZ - Any thank you's or shout outs you would like to give here?
VC - Well thank you very much for the interview first off. I appreciate it. You can watch our June 23rd show live online at www.onefc.com. The first four fights will be available for free, with the rest of the card will be available for $9.99 also online.
AddictedMMA would like to thank Victor Cui for his time, and wish One FC, its fighters, and all its fans, the best of luck this coming Saturday, as well as its future events across the Asian market.
Published by Jasyn Zangari - Wed, 20 Jun 2012 19:46