Thought the UFC's achievement of running more than 40 events per year was ambitious? ONE Championship plans on topping that figure.
ONE CEO Victor Cui told MMAFighting.com this week that his organization's goal is to run 50 events per year and he believes that could happen by 2017. ONE Championship: Age of Champions takes place Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
"Just imagine it this way: You would have ONE Championship on television live every Friday of the entire year," Cui said. "So it would become ubiquitous across Asia. Every bar that you go to on a Friday night will be watching us."
Critics have described the UFC's growing business model oversaturation. A decline in pay-per-view buyrates and television ratings have somewhat proven that -- at least before recent trends have seen an upturn.
But Cui is quick to remind that the UFC is still mainly a U.S. company, though it will run nearly half its events in international venues in 2015.
"[Oversaturation] makes sense if we were doing 50 events in one country," Cui said. "But we're doing 50 events all around Asia."
ONE is running 10 events in China this year alone and Cui said even the smallest of those cities has more than 5 million people. If ONE did 20 events per year in China, Cui said every single city would have a population of 5 million or more.
So China is a big part of the promotion's plans. If ONE holds 20 events in China per year, that leaves 30 more for the rest of Asia. There are preliminary plans for ONE to reach 22 countries moving forward. And ONE will still likely hold shows in its flagship countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines more than once per year.
ONE held 11 shows in 2014 and plans to expand that by a significant amount this year with China now in the fold. Cui noted that ONE hasn't even attempted to break into India yet and India would have the capability to host 10 more shows per year. But he said the timeframe for the organization's move into that market is "not soon."
The other logistical issue of having 50 events per year is depth of talent. Cui is confident there will be enough fighters to sustain the growth with MMA in Asia growing seemingly every day. Cui said there is currently a school in China that has 20,000 MMA students.
"And 20,000 in China is a small number when you're talking about 1.4 billion people," Cui said. "When they take on a sport, they throw an entire nation behind it and they get the best of the best throughout the country."
Cui said that trend goes for most Asian countries and MMA has a chance to become the subject of that kind of commitment and funding.
"I would say in the future, I think you're going to see almost no single martial art major schools," Cui said. "All of these schools are going to be teaching mixed martial arts."
That's a dramatic change for Asia, which was the birthplace of tradition martial arts. ONE is just trying to ride the wave it helped start. However, that momentum will not likely take it to North America any time soon.
"I definitely would love it," Cui said. "There's just so much competition there. And there's countries here that we are the biggest show in town when we come in the entire country."
And the amount of shows and the amount of countries are only growing.