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Victor Cui on roster expansion, women’s championship, Filipino fighters



Eight world champions and more to come.

ONE Championship held its year-end show last December 11, 2015 with Spirit of Champions at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The night saw Filipino-American MMA heavyweight Brandon Vera crowned as the promotion’s first World Heavyweight Champion. In addition, potential world champions rose from the card. This was more specific in the women’s division with Russian Irina Mazepa (2-0) staving off another ranked flyweight in Ana Julaton and Angela Lee (4-0) continuing to plow through the strawweight division.

With eight world champions in their stable and potentially the addition of two more in the women’s division, how can ONE Championship, the biggest mixed martial arts organization in Asia, sustain each division? Moreover, with 24 shows lined up for 2016, ONE needs to expand its fight roster.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Victor Cui on roster expansion, women's championship, Filipino fighters

According to ONE World Heavyweight Champion Brandon Vera, a lot of fighters want to jump ship to ONE Championship. “There’s a lot of people who are wanting to leave their organizations and come to ONE. I get email and phone calls of fighters who are wanting to get to ONE,” Vera told Tiebreaker Times.

In addition, the “Truth” added that it is up to ONE Championship whether or not they want to gain a chunk in the Global MMA market in saying, “it’s overdue and it’s really up to One how soon and how fast they want to grow. They’re at the right place and at the right time for the whole entire world market.”

When told about this, Cui told Tiebreaker Times that they are working to expand their current pool of fighters for 2016. “It’s true man. I get like 400 emails a day from fighters, coaches, gyms, and athletes who wants to fight,” Cui shared. “Actually it sounds crazy to get that number of emails but if you think about the whole world and we’re being broadcast to a billion people and every gym owner is like ‘wow.'”

Cui is leaving the decision and filtering process to ONE VP of talent Matt Hume. “It will be up to Matt Hume on how he plans to go about it. We have two promising heavyweights in China and we’re looking to bringing them in. Overall, we’re looking to sign more fighters, not just in Asia, but in the west as well for 2016.”Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Victor Cui on roster expansion, women's championship, Filipino fighters

For the women’s division though, Cui explained that building that division is trickier compared to the men’s. “That’s a trickier one. The weight difference, you have to look at it in percentage because a five kilogram difference between you and me is huge while in the heavyweight division, it’s nothing,” he explained. “The girls division is so tight that it’s quite tricky to know what we’re going to do.”

He assured though that the women’s strawweight division, the deepest women’s division ONE Championship has, will have a world champion come next year. “Probably by next year, I’m not a 100% sure, but we’re planning to bring in a world title for the women’s division,” the CEO shared. “Most probably, the strawweight division.”

To close, Cui is pessimistic about the trajectory of the Filipino fighter these days. Outside of Vera, he has yet to see any Filipino fighter that has a chance to win a world championship. “Haven’t seen any any yet. Got any suggestions,” he closed. This statement by Victor Cui is not a knock on the Filipino fighter but should be taken as a challenge for the entire Filipino MMA scene.

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