Mega event in the works

Mega event in the works
COOL IT: ONE Championship CEO Victor Cui (centre) separating Singapore’s Benedict Ang (left) from Waqar Umar during the weigh-in.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been growing exponentially in Singapore and around the region.

But fans could be in for something even bigger late next year.

In an earlier report by The New Paper, Victor Cui, CEO of ONE Championship, Asia's largest mixed martial arts organisation, said he had his sights set on bringing MMA to the 55,000-seater National Stadium.

During the ONE: Warrior's Quest public weigh-in last night at The Cathay, he elaborated on his hopes.

"I'm talking about a mega event that would make F1 look small. That's what I would dream of if we go to the National Stadium," he said.

"There will be concerts, entertainment, martial art demonstrations... an entire festival surrounding celebration for martial arts in Asia.

"We're working on it but, when you want to work on something that big, it takes time."

Cui believes that the sport's growth can be attributed to its intrinsic link with Asian culture.

He said: "Of all the sports in the world, the only true sport that is truly Asian, is martial arts.

"Everybody gets it, there's nothing you need to explain to someone who lives in Asia about martial arts.

"The foundation and the knowledge base of the sport in Asia are there, in our Asian DNA, unlike any other sport."

For this reason, Cui hopes to see MMA included at the next South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Malaysia in 2017.

"The Malaysians, who are huge supporters of MMA, are trying to push it (MMA in the next SEA Games), and we've helped to build the grassroots there on a very big level," he said.

MEDAL HOPES

Should MMA make a breakthrough and become a medal event at the next SEA Games, Singapore would appear to be big beneficiaries.

Four of the 20 fighters squaring off in the ONE: Warrior's Quest Fight Night this evening at the Indoor Stadium are representing Singapore.

Two of them, Benedict Ang, 19, and Angela Lee, 18, are making their professional debuts.

Said Cui of the growth of the sport in Singapore: "The progress of MMA in Singapore is going phenomenally well.

"When you deliver a product that everybody knows, understands and appreciates, things change and people become interested."

Not too long ago, debutant Benedict was one of these fans whose interest was piqued from watching MMA videos online with no intention of fighting.

He told TNP of his journey to professional MMA: "I got curious watching videos of One Championship, but the decision to join and do MMA came after I saw my teammate, Eddie (Ng) fight.

"To be on the same card as him and fighting is a dream come true.

"MMA in Singapore is growing very fast, we're getting more and more fighters.

"It'll be a huge sport in not just Singapore, but also in the world one day."

jeaniau@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 22, 2015.
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