ONE FC is no more.
The biggest MMA promotion in Asia is still up and running (and thriving), but it is now doing so under a different, similar name: ONE Championship. The word "fighting" has been removed from the brand and that is by design for various reasons, according to CEO Victor Cui.
It isn't that ONE is distancing itself from fighting or martial arts. Hardly. The change was made mostly for linguistic and cultural reasons. The majority of ONE's audience does not speak English and translating the word "fighting" into dozens of Asian languages has proven cumbersome.
"In Asia, there's only maybe 35 percent of people that speak English as a first language," Cui told MMAFighting.com. "When you start making longer words, the harder it is to translate it and get it across for our partners and sponsors and everyone to leverage and to use. From a practical point, that's one part of it."
The way Cui and his team sees it, the word "fighting" doesn't necessarily have to be in an MMA organization's name. The brand can stand alone without hitting everyone over the head with it (pun intended).
"[ONE] is going absolutely mainstream," Cui said. "And that means you have to focus on things that people really understand and can relate to right away. They understand what "one" means and they understand "championship." Everybody understands what a championship means. It means the best, it means the culmination of the top.
"That's the theory that every organization in the world has taken. F-1 or NASCAR isn't called 'watch-the-car-crashing-at-200-miles-per-hour-into-a-wall-sport.' Hockey isn't called 'watch-the-goons-fight-sport.' They focus on the things that showcase how strong the sport is as a global property."
Cui, who founded the organization in 2011, said if he would have had that kind of insight at the time, ONE FC would have been called ONE Championship from the start. He calls the switch a "natural progression" for the promotion, which holds its 27th event Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A flyweight title fight between champion Adriano Moraes and Asuka Mikami will headline.
The event is entitled Age of Champions. And that's ONE Championship: Age of Champions -- not ONE FC.
"There's no rule that says you have to have that in your title and I think the reason why I picked the name ONE in the first place was because I wanted a name that transcended the language barrier," Cui said. "If you didn't speak English, you knew what 'one' was, chances are. It means the top, the best and everybody could say it."