One Fighting Championship has added another promoter to its network of international affiliates, as the organization Wednesday announced a partnership with Glory Sports International.
The Asia-exclusive deal will see the companies exchange fighters between One FC events and those promoted by GSI under the Glory and Dream banners.
The first such show will take place Dec. 31, when GSI is set to resurrect the Dream brand under new management for Japan’s traditional New Year’s Eve fight fest at Saitama Super Arena. While no pairings have been confirmed, One FC CEO Victor Cui tells Sherdog.com that GSI has expressed interest in adding a handful of One FC talent to the bill. Among them, Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki (Pictured) and bantamweight ace Bibiano Fernandes -- fighters with “cult-like followings in the region” who buy up tens of thousands of tickets, according to Cui -- as well as longtime Japanese fan favorites Melvin Manhoef and Phil Baroni, rumored to be facing Hayato Sakurai.
Headquartered in One FC’s home base of Singapore, GSI has its origins in the Netherlands and the 1999 formation of Dutch kickboxing gym Golden Glory. Along with mixed kickboxing and MMA events under the Glory name, the company this summer acquired the rights and roster of long-running stand-up promotion It’s Showtime. One FC events have featured a bevy of champion boxers and kickboxers, and the partnership could provide a pipeline for strikers looking to transition to MMA.
GSI joins a lengthy list of Asia-Pacific promoters and gyms in the One FC Network, a talent-sharing partnership which looks to grow the sport exponentially with what Cui calls “a distinctly Asian approach of collaboration and inclusiveness.” By the CEO’s count, the year-old network already contains the majority of the region’s top talent -- by a substantial margin: “One FC has, by my estimate, over 90 percent of the top fighters in Asia signed to exclusivity, either directly through One FC or through our partners.”
But the most important role of the network, says Cui, is developing high safety standards, even in regions without sanctioning bodies.
“Everybody in the One FC network has an opportunity to talk about the rules, safety, training, officials, referees, timekeepers guidelines, and how to make sure this sport grows safely for the fighters and the promoters. That’s really important, because you want to make sure, if one of your fighters is competing in another organization, that their welfare is looked after.”
Next up for Cui’s organization is One FC 7, the company’s second Malaysian offering, which will take place Feb. 2 at the 15,000-seat Putra Indoor Stadium in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Bukit Jalil. The event, which will be broadcast live via online pay-per-view, is expected to be bolstered by a new sponsor which Cui calls “a game-changer for the sport in Malaysia.” According to One FC, that sponsor will be announced in December.