Hopefully many of you got to watch the SHERDOG live stream of ONE FC, the new show run by a business man named Victor Cui out of Singapore. It was a nice looking inaugural show, so they deserve credit, but there were also signs to be worried about.
First thing I noticed is that some of the crowd shots, well the place didn’t look sold out. The max capacity for the Singapore Indoor Stadium is apparently 13,000, but there looked to be several sections with no butts in the seats, and there may have been a smaller configuration used, though I don’t know that. The point is that for a show with the level of hype it got on the MMA side, for it not to be a sellout means that likely they didn’t get the crossover audience needed.
There were some good fights. I’d like to think I understand MMA enough to enjoy good fights, and I did. But I don’t think I saw a stand out war, or a top notch athlete or star capable of impacting non MMA hardcore fans or being a crossover star.
That is my big fear here for a show like ONE FC. The MMA community tends to gravitate towards new promoters, and lend support, create a good atmosphere and make the shows happen.
That is secondary to what is really needed, the support of the MMA community is not what will keep a show going. What keeps a show going is crossing over into mainstream acceptance like the UFC has done, and I’m not sure ONE FC did that.
Here is a good example. Bas Rutten, in his commentary, was his usual charming self. He talked about hoping that ONE FC might do a show in the Phillipines.
What he didn’t say was that it is a big market, and making inroads there would be huge for ONE FC. Or that it would be hard because the Phillipines is a boxing oriented country, and this would be a whole new sport for them, and it would require investment. He also failed to mention that though the Pinoy fighter Eduard Foloyang won his fight and looked good, that it would take time to make him a star. He didn’t share the insight that it will likely take more than one star to break a market like the Phillipines open to MMA.
What he said is ‘I hope ONE FC runs a show in the Phillipines, I’ve never been there’.
So Victor Cui and ONE FC are supposed to concern themselves with filling Bas’ passport? That is the type of support the MMA community can give an event when you are enthusiastic and not careful. It is draining. So let this be a caution to Victor Cui. There is still an awful lot of work to be done to be a healthy sustainable business, so make a good assessment of what has already almost certainly been a tax on your show.