ONE FC CEO Victor Cui says “Billions will be watching live events” on the ONE FC Network

Updated: July 29, 2012


“Imagine a live event for ONE FC watched by over 2 Billion people. That’s the power of the ONE FC Network,” Victor Cui, CEO and Owner of  ONE Fighting Championship

Victor Cui is the CEO and Owner of ONE FC, the Largest and most Prestigious Mixed Martial Arts promotion in Asia. I have been a fan since their first show, ‘Champion Versus Champion’. In less than one year they have become easily the second most viewed promotion in the world. I was truly honored to have Victor call me on the phone to discuss the present and future of ONE FC and MMA in Asia.

It wasn’t a Q & A type of interview, it was more like a real discussion about ONE FC. Victor is genuinely excited about everything they are doing right now and has an amazing grasp of the situation he and his company are in.

Victor, thank you so much for the call, how is everything on the 25th floor of the North Tower in Singapore today?

Its great  Zeus, and its good to speak with you again.

I was talking to one of my friends who isn’t a big MMA fan, and I was trying to tell him what makes ONE FC different than every other MMA promotion. I came up with this: ONE FC is like an Art Gallery,the biggest and best Art Gallery you could ever want to see. ONE FC displays art(Fights) from their own talented artists (fighters), but they also work with other studios (Smaller promotions) to put together a huge exhibit. By being a venue more than being a brand, ONE FC lends credibiltiy to other promotions and fighters as well as their own.

That’s a great analogy of what we do, Zeus.

We are just a little over a month away from ONE FC: Pride of a Nation, and everyone is really looking forward to that.

Is it coming that soon? I’d lost track. (laughs)

Well, enjoy it while you can, because next year you won’t have this much time between events all year long. (ONE FC will be holding 18 events in 2013)

I know, and I can’t wait for Pride of a Nation, we are in the Philippines for the first time and the home of the world-famous Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier “Thrilla in Manilla”. The Pillipines has been a growing fan base for MMA and ONE FC for a while and we are putting on a great show for them.

Pride of a Nation features 5 fighters from Universal Reality Combat Championships (URCC) including Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang, the URCC Welterweight Champion. Tell us about him.

URCC is the biggest MMA Promotion in the Philippines, and having many of their fighters is one of the things we’ve done to create such a local buzz for the event. One of the things you may not know about Eduard, is how much of a local all-around martial arts star he is in the Phillipines. He’s won medals in San Shou and Wushu, represented his country and won in the Asain Games and SE Asian Games, too. Since then, his transition into MMA has made him one of the most popular Filipino fighters in Asia.

Eduard won the Main Event of the first ONE FC card and his last fight against Ole Laursen was a three round war. They both fought very hard and it was a very close contest. I didn’t know who won, that fight at the end, to be honest.

It was a great fight, Zeus. I think the winner of that fight and all of the winners at ONE FC are the rightful winners. Our judging system is not based on the 10-point must system, its judged on the whole fight. This way fights are given weight to damage, control and effort. You’re not going to win a lot of fights in ONE FC with “Lay and Pray”, and that’s not the kind of fighter we are going to have here.

The rules in ONE FC ,as far as strikes to a downed opponent go, are far more effective than under Unified rules. I see it as a consequence and as a realistic fight tactic. If Fighter A shoots for a take down just for points, and gets stuffed by Fighter B, he is most likely in position to get kneed in the head. We’ve seen that in ONE FC already, and that (knees to the head) ended the fight. It wasn’t really the brutality of the knees to the head that stopped it, it was more of a ‘Checkmate’ position. Because the referees in ONE FC aren’t going to let that go on for very long.

Exactly, Zeus. We want to put on exciting fights, and reward exciting fighters.

Phil Baroni was pulled from his last ONE FC appearance due to health and safety issues. That was one of the topics addressed at the ONE FC Summit in June. Looking out for the well-being of your fighters on your own, is a good step in the right direction.

Absolutley, Matt Hume (Who is now working for ONE FC) spoke at length about fighter’s health at the ONE FC Summit. Also, we are glad to have Phil back for Pride of a Nation, you know he’s hugely popular in Asia, right? The media in the Philippines and the rest of the visiting MMA Media that will be there are already asking if and when they will have access to Baroni to see what he’s going to say next. One of the things about Phil, beyond the New York Bad Ass persona, he’s a very nice, intelligent guy, who is also very deep and philosophical.

I agree with you, there’s so much more to Baroni than what most people think of him on the surface.

Speaking of the ONE FC Summit, let’s talk about how important that was, and how huge ONE FC is becoming. We talked about the ten-year deal with ESPN Star Sports network last time, and the numbers are mind-boggling. They have a 500 million viewer reach. Looking at this with very conservative numbers, even a one percent reach is 5 million people. That’s bigger than what MMA is seeing on TV in the USA, from any network.

Right, but we are looking at much bigger numbers so far, Zeus. Also, ESPN Star Sports is not the only network ONE FC is on in Asia, but it is our biggest. We put ONE FC on a channel, Media Crop, which is free in Singapore, and ONE FC is the number one show on the network. The numbers look even bigger when we learned that Indonesia is going to change to the same time zone as Singapore next year. Indonesia is a much bigger country, and a bigger population as well. Imagine a live event for ONE FC watched by over 2 Billion people. That’s the power of the ONE FC Network.

I’m totally blown away, Victor. That’s just staggering to imagine, but when you look at it as a reality, its even bigger.

The way we have to look at Asia, Zeus, is its many, many countries, all neighboring each other, but once you cross those borders, they are vastly different in culture, language and attitudes towards fighting. We look to tailor our shows to each country that we visit and broadcast in.

Yet another challenge that you guys are meeting very well, so far. At Pride of a Nation we get to see two former World Champions make their debut in ONE FC: Andrei Arlovski and Jens Pulver.

We have two great matchups for these former champs, Arlovski is on a 2 fight win streak facing Soa Palelei, who is on a seven fight win streak all by tko. It should be an explosive fight.

I agree, and a short fight at that. The way I see it, Andrei has an edge fighting on a world stage with millions watching, whereas Soa has the advantage of blasting through his last several opponents. Both of these fighters add depth to the Heavyweight Division.

Jens Pulver is another very popular fighter in Asia, and he brings a wealth of experience to face Eric Kelly,  the reigning URCC Featherweight Champion, with a big Filipino fan following. Kelly is only seven fights into his career and Jens is his biggest name opponent to date.

Both guys are very respectful and both being fan favorites, I expect a hard fought contest with them shaking hands before and after the fight.

At ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors, we were treated to the excellent insight and fun commentary of Renzo Gracie for the first time. I think he did a great job, are we going to see him again?

Zeus, Renzo has been a huge supporter of ONE FC since day one. He comes to every event, flies out on his own and is a great person to have with us. He will be returning to the broadcast booth at some point and continue working in different ways, and we are always happy to have Renzo. At Pride of a Nation, we have three members of the Gracie clan in action: Igor, Rolles and the return of Gregor Gracie.

The Gracie name is alive and kicking in ONE FC, that’s for sure.

Victor, three of your biggest names at Pride of a Nation, Reanto “Babalu” Sobral, Shinya Aoki and the aforementioned Folayang are all without opponents. Do we know who they are fighting yet?

We are very close to making the announcements of their opponents, but they aren’t finalized yet. Shinya Aoki has been hard to find someone to face him, he’s one of the best in his weight class on the planet. Folayang is another fighter that is hard to find a qualtiy opponent for, but everyone will see soon.

Bibiano Fernandes turned down the UFC to fight in ONE FC and he has a tough challenge at Pride of a Nation in Gustavo Falciroli, a huge fight with future implications at Bantamweight.

This is no tune up fight for either guy, all our fights are competitive in ONE FC.

Looking ahead to October 6th, ONE FC presents Rise of Kings, back in Singapore. This card is where ONE FC will crown Champions across the weight divisions. Every fight in each of the first five shows will help you pick the top contenders to each title, correct?

Yes, even though we hadn’t announced it before, every fight in ONE FC matters.

Do you have cool looking Title Belts for the new Champions? Because I’m all about the Belts. (Laughs)

We have some great designs and we are narrowing it down, but I assure you, you’ll like them and the fighters will be proud to wear them.

Thanks so much Victor, it was really great to talk to you. We’ll have to do this again.

No problem, Zeus, I look forward to meeting you in person, too.

Oh, I’m up for that, one of my goals in life is getting out to Singapore to cover ONE FC live and in the flesh. From everyone at MMA Opinion, thanks again, and we all look forward to the great MMA action from ONE FC, starting with Pride of a Nation.

ONE FC: Pride of a Nation comes to you on August 31st , 2012 from the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Phillippines.