MMA is breaking new ground tomorrow as ONE Championship promotes its first event in Shanghai.
The promotion has been to mainland China before as well as the special administrative area of Macau, like the UFC, which is home to high-end hotels and casinos. But this is the first time a major MMA organization has come to the most populous city in the world.
This is a big deal for ONE and its CEO, Victor Cui, and it looks like one that is going to be a great success.
“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “Of course, Beijing is the political capital, but Shanghai has a lot of sexiness to it.”
“This is bigger than any other city we’ve ever been to and there’s a buzz,” Cui added. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook today with people trying to get VIP tickets and they’re all sold out.
“I’ve been surprised at how great the awareness has been in the event. It’s a difficult city to make a dent in. There’s 25 million people in Shanghai…”
The fight card is set to play out at the 18,000-person capacity Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, and has been filled with local talent to draw interest. However, to bolster the attraction of the eight Chinese fighters that are competing, and all have limited professional experience, there are some established ONE names for a broader appeal.
In the main event, undefeated welterweight champion Ben Askren will defend his belt against Zebaztian Kadestam.
Coming to Shanghai is a statement, which of course why the UFC has targeted it as their first destination in mainland China later this year. If the interest of the ONE show is anything to go by, it looks like the Octagon and all of its resources will also open the door to a whole new market and millions of dollars with it.