ONE Championship is not threatened by the arrival of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the Philippines.
ONE vice president Rich Franklin made this clear ahead of UFC’s much-anticipated maiden staging in the country on May 16 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
“I don’t think another organization being here alters our plan at all,” Franklin said. “You see the kind of shows we put on and we’re going to put on another amazing show.”
Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion has been holding fight cards in Manila since 2012 and will present its sixth offering on April 24, dubbed 'Valor of Champions,' headlined by the welterweight title bout between champion Ben Askren and Luis Santos.
The 40-year-old Franklin, a former UFC middleweight champion who still has a fight left in his contract with the world’s premier MMA outfit, is focusing on helping his new organization sustain its growth in the continent in his new role as a top executive.
“What somebody does doesn’t change our game plan,” he said. “We just continue on the path of excellence that we’ve always been on.”
To distinguish it from other promotions and to become more relevant in the continent, the Singapore-based company has removed the word ‘Fighting’ from its name since the start of the year, citing ‘cultural’ reasons, according to CEO Victor Cui in a recent interview with MMAFighting.com.
ONE, however, chose to set its first card this year in Manila on an April date after Rise of Heroes (2014), Rise to Power (2013), and Pride of a Nation (2012) were held in May.
Valor of Champions, featuring a handful of Filipinos led by Mark Striegl, Eugene Toquero, and Geje Eustaquio, will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena a month before UFC: Fight Night Manila will be staged at the same venue.
“The scheduling that we did in working things out with MOA was one of the factors that came into play,” Franklin said.
Franklin, though, believes, having the UFC and ONE Championship at the same time in the country is a win-win for Filipino MMA fans.
“Truly, it’s a testament to how MMA’s has grown in this market. I think you’re going to see more and more of that Asia-wide. It’s a plus for the fans.”