NHB Podcast Interview: Victor Cui of ONE FC

Eddie Goldman, "The Godfather of MMA Journalism", interviewed ONE FC's Owner and CEO Victor Cui in this latest edition of the No Holds Barred show.  Listen to this very informative podcast here.  I am very honored to be the Asia correspondent for No Holds Barred, such a well-respected and upstanding information source, and Eddie Goldman, "The Conscious of Combat Sports".  A huge thank you for Victor in mentioning me and commending my efforts to grow the sport of MMA in Asia.

Here is the introduction to this interview:

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Victor Cui, the CEO and owner of the ONE Fighting Championship.

Based in Singapore, ONE FC ran their first mixed martial arts card on September 3, 2011. They have led the establishment of the ONE Asia Partnership Network, which is a mutually exclusive partnership of mixed martial arts organizations and gyms across Asia and the Pacific which will co-promote events and share fighters. So far, ONE FC has partnered with Dream in Japan, URCC in the Philippines, Cage Fighting Championship in Australia, ROAD Fighting Championship in Korea, DARE Fightsports in Thailand, Team Lakay Wushu in the Philippines, Tiger Muay Thai and MMA in Thailand, Tigers Gym in India, Evolve Mixed Martial Arts in Singapore, Legacy Gym in Thailand, Tough MMA in Taiwan, Synergy Jiu-Jitsu in Indonesia, Juggernaut FC in Singapore, Fightworks Asia in Singapore, PAK MMA in Pakistan, Team Force in Korea, MuayFit in Malaysia, and Leverage MMA in Malaysia.

The Month of Rebirth for MMA in ASIA

The eleventh month of the eleventh year of the new millennium will go down in history as the month of rebirth for MMA in Asia.  Events came to a crescendo on the 28th, when the entire MMA community was treated to a triple-header of press releases involving two of the most well-known and dominating promotions worldwide – UFC and DREAM – and newcomer ONE FC, whose aspirations may rise higher than anything seen before.

DREAM is “Genki Desu Ka!”

With the financial fate of DREAM Japan’s parent company FEG in question, the promotion announced that it would still hold a traditional New Years Eve show, but under the sponsorship of FieLDS and IGF (a professional wrestling promotion).  In snippets of Japanese language-only press conferences, the epic fight card was revealed. 

First came a Featherweight bout between Crusher Tatsuya Kawajiri and previous title contender Kazuyuki Miyata.  Then an 8 years in the making Welterweight rematch bout between Ryo Chonan and Hayato Sakurai, a member of the now infamous ‘Zaromskis Headkick Club’.  Championship bouts announcements followed, with a Featherweight contention between Champion Hiroyuki Takaya taking on Lion Takeshi, and a Lightweight title defense by the arm collecter Shinya Aoki against long-time training partner Satoru Kitaoka.  Additionally, the Bantamweight semifinals and final will be held with Masakazu Imanari versus Antonio Banuelos and Bibiano Fernandes versus Rodolfo Marques; the Reserve bout being equally exciting as Hideo Tokoro takes on Yusup Saadulaev

ONE FC: Potential to Change the Whole Game

One Fighting Championship of Singapore has issued a press release regarding a mutual agreement with DREAM of Japan:

...ONE Fighting Championship and DREAM have agreed to co-promote events together and have also agreed to fighter exchanges. Fighter exchanges are expected to happen with immediate effect. It means that any ONE FC fighter will automatically be eligible to compete on DREAM and any DREAM fighter will automatically be eligible to compete on ONE FC. In addition, the first co-promotion is tentatively scheduled for March 31 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in the name of “ONE FC / DREAM in Singapore,” ...

And DREAM of Japan has: released a corresponding statement:
これは日本及びシンガポールをはじめ、アジアのMMAにとって記念碑的な発展の一つとなるでしょう。この提携関係の中で、DREAMとONE FCは将来のイベントの共催及び選手の交換を行っていくことに合意しました。『DREAM/ONE FC in Singapore』やONE FCの日本大会などのイベント開催や、選手の交換に関してはすぐにその成果が見られると期待されています。これは、全てのDREAMの選手がONE FCへ出場し、また全てのONE FCの選手がDREAMへ出場する可能性があることを意味しています。

Swift on the heels of ONE FC’s guerrilla tactics press on recent strategic partnerships with Asian MMA promotions, ending with this bunker bomb of a mutually exclusive partnership with DREAM, the question remains: what's the big deal?

With the bold font-intended words “effective immediately” ONE FC announced that this partnership means that all ONE FC fighters are eligible to fight in DREAM, and vice versa.  A co-promotion to be held in Singapore is being planned for as early as March 31st, an extremely ambitious undertaking between a newcomer with great technique and a veteran heavy hitter.  ONE FC must have some serious broadcast deals in their pocket to capture the stalwart’s interest and cooperation.

Friday Fight Facts #2



W - MMA in ASIA has a new URL, and a new look, based on your feedback. to all of you, thanks for helping MMA in Asia grow!!! keep checking the site for fast updates and some new features coming soon.

W - Friday at 4pm at Korean Top Team: open to the public to meet UFC's Ben Henderson and "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.

Chan Sung Jung
내일 오후 4시부터 UFC라이트급 타이틀 도전자이자 하프코리안인 벤 헨더슨과 코리안탑팀 합동훈련이 대림동 코리안탑팀체육관에서 있습니다 관람비같은것도 없으니 편하게 오셔서 구경도 하시고 사진촬영도 하시고가세요^^ 그리고 너무 헨더슨한테만몰리면 제가 너무 무안하니 저도좀 아는척해주세요.............................ㅋㅋ

L - ‎Road Fc 5 updates via their website: ROAD FC 005. NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS

Young Guns Tournament - 박정교 Park Junggyo is out because of a car accident, and the replacement announced is 차인호 Cha Inho.
Night of Champions - Jaeyoung Kim got an achilles injured in training, and 최재현 Choi Jaehyun suffered a shoulder injury in a car crash.

W - Trench Tech's Trench Warz 15 fight card: Saipan Tribune

‎W - Kazuhiro Nakamura in Hong Kong for the judo club, and a roll with Thomas Fan

City Fight Club: Boxing Finals

This is Part 2 of our coverage of the City Fight Club White Collar amateur MMA's first round event, the boxing competition, held at DEF Boxing Gym in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.  You can read Part 1 here.

At this point of the event, every white collar warrior has tasted of battle.  Now begin the finals in each division to determine the champions of the night.  The only thing missing is the Founder, Vuyisile Colossa.  What could possibly keep him from attending the first phase of his own event?  Well, The Cheetah is in Kuala Lumpur for the finals of "The Challenger" Muay Thai television show.  Even throughout the event, even though they must focus on their own performance, the fighters are checking for updates on how The Cheetah did!  Much love in the house.

Kicking it off is Jeff "Soul Child" Siegel taking on James "Mamba" Li.  Both come out boxing.  It's Soul Child who finds his timing first, and starts picking apart the Mamba's mojo.  But Mamba comes back and rights the situation with some nice stiff rights of his own.  Mamba's strong finish earns him the win.

In a heavyweight battle between Ben Hartwell and Nick Robinson, we have a very dominant game  from Ben, who rocked Nick few times and referee Shinji Ichinose called it a bout.

Next we have the first set of ladies back in the ring: Sharon "Sanguine" Law versus Eva "The Scorpion Queen" Rona.  This is a back and forth battle, as each fighter knows this is their last bout and they've got to leave everything they've got in the ring.  The Scorp is definitely drawing some blood with her stinging combinations, but Sanguine rallies at the end.  It's not quite enough, so the decision goes to the Scorpion Queen.

I asked the Scorpion Queen how she got her fight name, and she showed me a strategically placed tattoo.  I guess scorpions have got this queen's back.  Eva said she's been training in kickboxing for 6 years, but never straight-up boxed before.  She's here in City Fight Club because Vuyisile encouraged her to go for it.  The Scorpion Queen said she couldn't wait for the kickboxing phase to begin: "I want to kick the girl's head... I'm dying to!"  But first, she was on her way out to Saikung to be a supporter all night ong for the Trailwalker competition.  What a trooper!

City Fight Club: Round 1

Friday night was the first test for 18 white collar weekend warriors who signed up to participate in a four-month long quest to be a Mixed Martial Arts champion.  To a packed house at DEF Boxing Gym, each of them got their first taste of the promotion's slogan: "Any Time, Any Where, Any Style".  Well, almost any style, this night was only for boxing.  The promotion is set up to train the fighters for one month each in boxing, grappling, and Muay Thai.  At the end of each month of training, the fighters go head to head in a competition specific to that month's training.  In the fourth and final month, the champions will train all-out MMA for an epic conclusion to this first-of-its-kind athletic contest.

City Fight Club is the brainchild of notable Muay Thai and MMA fighter Vuyisile "The Cheetah" Colossa.  Emigrating to Hong Kong from South Africa with hopes of providing a better life for his family, The Cheetah quickly established himself as a fixture on the local scene.  Since moving to HK, he has brought attention to himself - and the city out of which he fights - by competing in some of the largest Muay Thai promotions in Asia: The Kings Cup in Thailand, Wulinfeng in China, and the currently airing The Challenger television show.

The Cheetah's fought and bested some of the biggest names in the sport, but not being content with success in just the stand-up aspect of combat, he catapulted himself into the realm of MMA in 2010.  He proved that cheetahs have a well-rounded game right away, with a record of 4 wins and 1 loss - that loss being to Eduard Folayang, an Asian Games sanda medalist and regarded across the Asian MMA scene as the best pound-for-pound fighter out of the Philippines.  The Cheetah dominated the final round which took the fight to a decision, though not in his favor.  His impressive performances got the attention of the newest and most ambitious promotion in Asia, and he landed a contract for successive fights with One FC.

But wait, enough about The Cheetah, let's focus on the fights that happened Friday night!

The first bout of the night was between the ladies: Andrea "Roc Fist" Fisher versus Sharon "Sanguine" Law.  These women put on one hell of an opener.  Roc Fist found her distance straight away, but Sanguine countered with some lethal body shots.  Roc Fist's accuracy got her the first win of the evening.

Friday Fight Facts #1




W - LOOKING FOR FIGHTERS: for a December 18 card, PRO Fighting MMA Taiwan is looking for 92kg-100kg fighters and opponents for Andy Wang and/or Mark Striegl. contact royal@profightingmma.com

W - ‎ LOOKING FOR FIGHTERS: December 17 card in Bangkok: 2-3 ppl 70 kg+ to fight Muay Thai Champion in MMA rules, 20,000 baht less 10% commission. Contact Niti Techottiasneetor2560 @ hotmail.com

W - UFC in Japan update by MMA-Japan.comUFC JAPAN Main Event Set - Other Big Question Marks

W - the 12/16 DEEP fight card announcement includes Hiroshi Iron Nakamura vs Seiji Akao:  総合格闘技DEEP2001オフィシャルサイト提供、試合結果や大会トピック、選手情報などのニュースをお届けしています。

L - War in a Cage 2 postponed to January 29.Due to the Bangkok floods affecting them directly, via Muchzhima MMA:

W -  Tiger Muay Thai's Ray Elbe gets an appearance in the UFC magazine Australia edition. Tiger Muay Thai BJJ Black Belt Ray Elbe interviewed in current @UFC magazinewww.tigermuaythai.com

W - Behind the scenes at Legend Fighting Championship 6 in Macau City of Dreams.

Legend FC 6: Behind the Scenes

Few moments more exemplify the saying "calm before the storm" than the moments leading up to an MMA event.  There's excitement in the air - to be sure - and a little tenseness felt between old rivalries and anxious newcomers.  However, to a casual onlooker the serene and almost lazy attitude of the competitors and coaches seems to be more akin to a yoga convention than an impending battle between nine pairs of warriors.

I arrived in Macau just before the weigh ins for Legend FC 6.  The City of Dreams complex is a meandering narrow corridor of a shopping arcade for luxury goods strung between the Hard Rock Hotel and the Grand Hyatt, with a few cavernous entrances looking to swallow you up into rooms full of slot machines and pai gow tables.  In Macau casinos, the crowds and bling can be disconcerting, but I've been here many times before so I'm on autopilot up to the Grand Hyatt ballroom.

I arrive in time to see them setting up for the weigh ins.  It isn't a fancy affair, just a big billboard and some black satin.  Where are all the reporters, I wonder.  Macau - even though it is dubbed the Las Vegas of Asia - has the distinction of being part of China and next to Hong Kong, yet separated from it, and the press don't like to make a trip here on two occasions for one event.  However, in this day of instant internet information, Zike from MMA Orient and myself are here to cover it, along with Legend FC's crack production team who manage to get an edited video out almost simultaneously.

Then I took a peek to see how the preparations were going in the ballroom.  There was a massive construction project going on!  It's amazing to see what goes into the construction of a ring, and the sheer number of people it takes to accomplish the job.  But at this point, not much was happening.  I imagined they'd be working well into the night on this one.

Joel Resnick, RUFF China MMA Pioneer

On August 27th, 2011, the Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation championed years of efforts inproducing a government-partnered Mixed Martial Arts fighting promotion in China with their first successful event, RUFF: Genesis. They secured fighters from notable teams and organizations such as UMAC, Xian Sports University, Brave FC and China Top Team and sponsorship from heavyweight brands Nike and Ducati. RUFF proclaimed it was the first “government sanctioned” MMA event in China.

Wanting to know more about this aggressive start-up, I spoke with Co-founder Joel Resnick about how this fledgling MMA promotion is impacting the sport in China. We also discuss the trials of launching such a promotion in China, RUFF’s goals, and the future of MMA in China.

LL: Firstof all, congratulations on concluding your inaugural MMA promotion. I understand you’ve been working on this project for almost three years.

JR: It’s actually been 4 years since we first came up with the idea for RUFF.

LL: Four years, there must have been some huge obstacles to overcome for it to take that long for RUFF: Genesis to finally be realized.

JR: Honestly, given that what we’re doing with MMA in China has never been done before, there have been, and there will continue to be obstacles along the way. We remain undeterred and are optimistic about the future of RUFF and MMA in China.

LL: Can you tell me specifically about the most recent delay? I remember when you held a press conference at the beginning of the year and expected a March show. This got the MMA community in Asia very eager for your promotion.

JR: In the case of the delay from March to August, we just needed the extra time to put on an MMA event that would live up to the high standards that we’ve set for RUFF, and ultimately, our patience, and the patience of Chinese MMA fans, was met with a first-rate event with some of the best fights I’ve seen.

LL: Given that so many people are interested in business in China right now, can you tell us why the process was so long and complicated?

JR: Any time you’re doing something for the first time, there are inevitably going to be surprises that arise out of nowhere, and what we are doing with RUFF is unprecedented; no one has ever started a nationally-affiliated MMA organization like RUFF, where we’re partnering with the government to eventually award the first-ever MMA National Championship Belts.

LL: China nationally-recognized MMA belts, that’s indeed a huge accomplishment! What is the main government organization you are working with to accomplish this?

JR: We have partnered with the Wushu Administrative Center of the General Administration of Sport of China.

This Week's Fighter Interviews

Takeshi "Lion" Inoue, Shoot the Shooto - 11/5
 after head-kick-KOing Caol Uno at DREAM 17, Lion Takeshi talks about his strategy for SHOOT BOXING -SAMURAI SPIRITS- Shoot the Shooto this weekend:

LION gave successive comments with self-confidence in open practice!!The open practice of LION Takeshi, who would fight against Hiroki Shishido in “SHOOT the SHOOTO 2011” (6th Nov, City Hall of Tokyo Dome), was performed in Shooto Gym Tokyo in Tokyo Area on 1st Nov. ... 

Will TheKill Chope of Engage MMA Academy, URCC XX - 11/5
here's a good fan post interview by James Goyder on Will TheKill Chope as he prepares for this coming weekend's UNIVERSAL REALITY COMBAT CHAMPIONSHIP (URCC) XX:
Will Chope: the world's tallest bantamweight ready to do battle at URCC XXwww.bloodyelbow.com

Pete Brooks, URCC XX - 11/5
another interview on a UNIVERSAL REALITY COMBAT CHAMPIONSHIP (URCC)fighter: get the scoop on how Pete Brooks intends to be the Cruiserweight Champion, by Zike Sugawara of MMAOrient.com
URCC XX: Pete “The Professor” Brooks ready to be the URCC cruiserweight ChampionThree days to go before URCC XX and all fight fans are pumped up for the biggest MMA promotion in the Philippines happening on November 5th, 2011 at World Trade Center, Pasay City, Philippines.
Breaking News: Pete Brooks’ opponent pulled out from the fight, Frank Navarro steps in for SabianoPete Brooks' opponent, Mac Sabiano pulled out from their scheduled match up due to motorcycle accident. Pete Brooks confirmed the news to MMAOrient: I just got a text from Willy

Honorio 'Lion Heart' Banario of Team Lakay, URCC XX - 11/5
He's excited with the change of opponents (Sabah Fadai is out with an injury) and sees it as a challenge.

Interview With URCC Lightweight Champion Honorio Banario

Brian Choi of Evolve MMA, Road FC 5 - 12/3
Brian Choi talks about returning to Korea to fight in Road Fc.
Rising Korean Featherweight Brian Choi Talks One FC Network and Next Fight in Road FC | MMAWeekly.com
Rising Korean prospect Brian Choi talks to MMAWeekly.com about his next fight in Road FC and his new deal to fight under the One FC Network.

Vuyisilie Colossa, Road FC 5 - 12/3

Vuyisile “The Cheetah” Colossa interviewmmaorient.com
In 1998, aged 15, Vuyisile Colossa started participating in kickboxing, and this new and exciting sport brought out the champion in Vuyisile. He was awarded 3rd place in the Free State championshi...

Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang of Team Lakay, One FC
get to know a little more about Eduard "The Landslide" Folayang.

Featured Fighter of The Month: Eduard Folayang - The Fight Nationthefightnation.com
With his polite, understated demeanor and poster boy charm, one would not guess that Eduard Folayang is a man who fights for a living. Being labeled MMA’s answ…

Yang Seung Ho of Tiger Muay Thai, One FC
Ray Elbe just hipped us to this very in depth interview with Tommy Yang Seung Ho of Tiger Muay Thai, a young fighter with a record of 11-0 looking to increase his wins when he fights for ONE Fighting Championship in 2012.

Over the past several years, the Thailand-based training facility known as Tiger Muay T...

Bangkok Flooding - Charity Needed

Over a week has passed since the 2011 Thailand Open, yet Bangkok has still been on everyone's minds daily as the flooding continues to escalate and threaten the entire community.  I was lucky to get a flight in before the flood gates were opened to the northeastern districts of Bangkok, which could have affected Suvarnabhumi Airport.  Flying in, I could see how much of northern Bangkok was absolutely underwater.

During the entire tournament, the weather was beautiful and the areas around central Bangkok weren't affected by flooding at all.  However, many of the locals were hosting not only out-of-town competitors, but friends from the Bangkok outskirts whose homes had been flooded.  The BJJ Association of Thailand members are donating everything they can to helping those in need, above and beyond the 100 baht promised from each entry.  Grips Gym from Hong Kong donated loads of dry goods at the competition as well as a cash donation, as did Lotus Gym from Australia.

Professor Adam Kayoom's Q23 Academy hosted a charity seminar with eight black belts and around 50 students attending and raised almost 40,000 baht for flood relief.  It was an incredible treat to have 100 years of knowledge in one room sharing freely. A big thank you is deserved for Professors Adam Kayoom, Dan Simmler, Stephen Kamphuis, Makoto Ogasawara, Marcos Escobar, Andy Wang, Rodrigo Caporal and Ray Elbe for donating their time to a worthy cause.
The biggest thing that impressed me - beyond the actual techniques shown by each professor - was the openness they exhibited towards one another.  Long after the seminar was concluded, they exchanged techniques and variations with one another, asking questions and joking around.  It was humbling and fulfilling to know that knowledge is not finite.
We will bring you updates of the BJJAT and Q23 Academy efforts to provide flood relief.  If you want to donate, please contact the gyms and associations listed in Thailand on BJJ Asia or contact your Thai friends directly.  Many Bangkok residents are also seeking overseas accommodations while the floodwaters continue to affect their homes.  MMA in Asia has donated $1,000HKD to the seminar's flood relief campaign.  It isn't much, but I hope it will help provide some small amount of assistance to ease a family's suffering at a crucial time

2011 Thai Open BJJ recap

This year marked the fourth edition of the Thailand Open Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling Competition.  The record turn-out of almost 300 competitors attests to the high quality and popularity of the BJJ Association of Thailand hosted event.  There are equally high-caliber and prestigious tournaments in the Philippines, however the Thai Open can boast that it attracts the highest international participation.  Teams traveled in from all over Asia: Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.  From further abroad, competitors came representing Australia, and the USA.

Although it can be argued that BJJ is not a fun spectator sport for non-practitioners due to the technical nature of competition, this year's Thai Open proved to be extremely exciting.  the blue belt and intermediate divisions were stacked with a huge number of competitors, and the purple belt ranks have grown exponentially in a few short years, making for some great bouts.   On the no gi day, the tournament was honored to have special unannounced competitors arrive for the advanced division.  John Olaf Einemo and Sergey Kharitonov from Golden Glory came from their training camp in Pattaya to compete.

I am very thankful for Bangkok BJJ and Golden Palace Hotel for accommodating my stay during the tournament so that I could assist and provide updates via the internet.  If you haven't seen them already, Luke Chaya with BJJ-Asia has some fantastic photos posted from both the gi and no gi competitions.  More photos and information can be found on the MMA in Asia Facebook page.