ONE Championship has come a long way since the fledgling MMA organization held its maiden event in Manila six years ago.
With its 10th event in the Philippines on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena, ONE Championship is now looking to expand in taking fight cards outside of Manila.
"I think the reality is that the Philippines is MMA crazy. You can't put on enough shows in a year to satisfy the demand," said Loren Mack, ONE Championship's Vice President of Public Relations and Communications, during the press conference for the ONE: Kings of Destiny card held Tuesday.
Among all places, Cebu and Baguio seem to be the most logical places for ONE to land with the influx of fighters coming out from both cities.
It also helps that ONE CEO Victor Cui traces his roots in Cebu, while Baguio is the home of the fabled Team Lakay stable that has trained ONE lightweight champ Eduardo Folayang, the headliner of Friday’s event.
"Major cities outside Manila have been demanding an event for a very long time such as Cebu. It's something we keep an eye on. We're open to it and we're looking at when the best time to do this," Mack added.
The challenge for ONE is time. At the moment, the organization is holding 24 events in a year, with Manila playing host to events during the summer time and every December. But while the expansion may not come this year, Mack declared that’s an inevitable move for the organization given the robust Philippine MMA market.
"The demand's there. The fanbase is there. It's not a matter of if, but when," he said.
All in all, Mack is just happy to see MMA finally hit the mainstream level in the Philippines. From being a 'boxing nation,' the sport has slowly been received and is now gaining traction in the country.
"You could tell, the whole mainstream aspect has really taken off," Mack continued.
"I think what you're gonna see is more events, more gyms, more content. It's gonna be better and better. We haven’t disappointed thus far and we don't plan to disappoint in decades to come."