Upstart MMA promotion, One FC has yet to host their first show, but it is already believed that they have the potential to be the leading promotion in Asia. Cage-side seats of the 12,000 capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium got sold out almost instantly, and the volume of people buying tickets for the September 3 card even crashed their server. This is more impressive as it is very common in Asia that a huge amount of people would still be walking in and buying tickets during the day of the fight.
They are planning to formally announce the card on a press-conference next week, on July 14, but without much details released as of the moment, why are they already getting a lot of attention in Asia now? Well it's a combination of several factors:
They have a good concept that can appeal to casual fans. Their slogan: "One FC: Champion vs. Champion. Asia's Greatest Battle of Champions... 16 World Champions and National Champions will compete in Mixed Martial Arts to be crowned the best in Asia". We still don't know if they can pull this off properly, but that's a concept that would surely get casual fans in Asia interested.
MMA in Singapore is booming. I already said this over twitter - ESPN Star / Martial Combat's moderate success, coupled with the rise of top Singapore fight team, Evolve MMA, has really contributed a lot to the rapid growth of the country's MMA scene. If you haven't heard about Evolve, this is the new home of guys like Shinya Aoki and Rafael Dos Anjos. Why have they moved there? Cause this team is probably the most talent rich team in Asia with several world champions from BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, and MMA coming out of that stable. A number of fighters from that camp will be participating on the Sept 3 card, and they're bound to get the home town crowd behind them come fight time. It is also interesting to note that there were negotiations between OneFC and Aoki, but it didn't push through.
- Decline of Japanese MMA. The Japanese MMA scene isn't even comparable to half of what PRIDE did during it's heyday. DREAM still has most of their top stars, and they still have a good talent pool, but even if you don't consider the issues plaguing them, their product really is targeted solely for the Japanese people and the hardcore MMA fans. There are other high quality promotions in the region such as the URCC, Legend FC, and even PXC, who has made a foray from Guam to the Philippines, but the overall Asian market is still very much wide open.
- OneFC's business model. While they have the same head honcho in Victor Cui, One Fighting Championship will be moving away from Martial Combat's model of hosting 2 events every month, to a more normal approach of hosting cards with a few months of separation. This builds up more interest to an upcoming fight card, and gives the promoters more time to stack a card and promote it heavily.
They have a huge reach, and reportedly have people with deep pockets backing them. This is probably the most important factor that gives this promotion the potential to make it big in Asia. Much like Martial Combat, the guys behind One FC have also secured deals with ESPN Star to broadcast their product to over 24 Asian countries. What they did better this time though, is that they also have domestic deals in place for their cards to be shown on free TV, making it available to every single person living in Singapore.
This promotion has the potential to make it big. They have the reach, they have the budget, and they're going to be available in more homes than any other promotion in Asia. Now it's just a matter putting all the pieces together and getting the people interested and invested in their product.