By Thinesh John
The ONE Asia MMA Summit officially kicked off this past Saturday, with the powerhouses of Asian MMA all present in this historic event.
Attendees included over 150 people ranging from Sponsors to Media officials and to industry leaders. This inaugural event, the first of its kind in Asia, was no doubt the stepping stone to the future of professional Asian Mixed Martial Arts.
A panel of 4 selected guests were each given time to educate members of the audience on how the future of Asian MMA will be impacted. Yodchatri Sityodtong (CEO of Evolve MMA), Bubbles Aguilar (Co-Founder of the URCC), Moon Hung Jung (CEO of ROAD Fighting Championships) and Luke Pezzutti (Co-owner of Cage Fighting Championship) had the distinguished honour of delivering these speeches and were able to come up with a myriad of examples from personal experiences, to the shortcomings and success of their very own individual promotions.
“The Asian industry is going to be massive,” said Chatri Sityodtong, the CEO of Evolve MMA. “It’s going to be the centre of the world. First of all, there’s a genetic wiring in every human being on the planet. A fight or fight instinct, is the reason why we wake up every morning, to protect our children’s future, to work for your wife or husband or for your country.”
And that fight instinct is what Chatri believes is embedded in all human beings. And he was quick to point that out too.
“It’s the reason why, we have an 8-year-old boy, growing up in Thailand, Brazil, China, Japan, France – And that 8-year-old boy has been in a playground fight, over a toy or whatever it is, “ he said. “The same reason 2500 years ago in the Greek/Roman Empire, the number 1 sport that galvanised entire countries, was in coliseums where gladiators vs. gladiators fought till their death.”
The CEO of Evolve MMA was also emphasizing on the fact that unlike other sports, MMA needs little to no introduction, since a fight is simple to understand, where all we need to know is just that there’re 2 guys fighting.
Furthermore, Sityodtong was quick to add that Asians understand fighting and get what Martial Arts are all about.
“Every single country from Japan we have Judo, Karate, Akido; Taekwondo in Korea, Muay Thai in Thailand, Kung Fu and Wushu from China, Boxing in Philippines, “ Chatri continued. “So the adoption curve is a lot faster than it was in the US.”
Furthermore, Chatri confidently predicted that Asian MMA will easily be a multi- billion dollar industry in the future. He added that every major player in the Asian MMA industry, from existing promotions to media partners, has to work together cohesively, to ensure every success in the long run.
“If gyms, fighters, managers, promotions, sponsors, advertisers, media companies – We all work together, as a big eco-system, that’s the only way we’ll be able to take this industry from tens and millions of dollars a day, “ said the founder of Evolve MMA. “ That’s where the industry is at right now. If you combine all the revenues, of everybody in Asia, it’s tens of millions of dollars. We’re looking at a 10-20 billion dollar industry over the next 5-10 years. So we’re going to have to collaborate. We’re going to have to work together to find new opportunities.”
Safety was also an issue that was tapped upon by Chatri. The 41-year-old believes that negligent deaths cannot be a part of this thriving industry. Moreover, he further added that the code of ethics plays a pivotal role in the growth of the ever growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
“That is how we grow the sport, “ said Sityodtong. “That is how we get new fans, that is how we get press coverage, and that’s how we get new sponsors and new advertisers. “
Sityodtong also believes that in the future, there will be 2 superpowers in the MMA industry – The Ultimate Fighting Championship and ONE Fighting Championship.
“We’re going to have the UFC in the west and ONE FC in the east, “ he predicted. “And the reason why I think it’s going to happen is because obviously the UFC is already a 3 billion dollar company and number 1 global brand in the world. UFC has the 7-year FOX deal, while ONE FC has the 10-year deal.
That is why I really believe there’re going to be 2 superpowers in the next 5 to 10 years. East vs. West – That’s also going to be a dominant theme. We’re going to have just like Apples competing with Samsung, just like Toyotas competing with GM, and you’re going to have UFC-ONE FC. You’re going to have The Fight Nation against Sherdog. ”
The CEO of Evolve MMA wrapped up his speech by saying that MMA will be bigger than both Cricket and Soccer/Football in the future.