Come September, some of the world’s top cage fighters are set to be showcased in a high-octane, regionally televised event that will take place, for the first time ever, in front of a Cambodian audience.
NagaWorld has announced a ground-breaking partnership with Asia’s leading mixed martial arts organisation, ONE Fighting Championship, which will see the business and entertainment giant sponsor 10 events spread across five countries over the next two years. At least two of the fight cards are to be held in the Kingdom.
Financial details for the agreement have not been disclosed.
The first of the Cambodian events has been slated for September 12, with further information to be revealed at a press conference next month. It will also be supported by the Ministry of Tourism and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, with local channel MyTV to screen action live on the night.
“This partnership exemplifies the huge strides the sport of mixed martial arts and ONE FC have made across Asia,” ONE FC CEO Victor Cui said in a statement touting the deal.
NagaWorld vice president of events management Jerome Lee told the Post they were equally excited at helping bring ONE FC events to the Kingdom, saying: “MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports right now and kickboxing is a sport deeply rooted in the Cambodian culture.
“This platform is an instrument that we at NagaWorld are looking to embark on to introduce Cambodia and the capabilities of Cambodian fighters to the region and the world.
“Sports have always been an area which we focus on for our corporate social responsibility program. We have been sponsoring Cambodian kickboxing events and football, as well as sponsoring Cambodian teams in Davis Cup tennis, SEA Games and now the ONE FC,” Lee added.
The move has been lauded by many in the fledgling domestic MMA scene, such as A Fighter Gym, which has already sent fighters to compete at five separate ONE FC events abroad.
“I think it will give the local Cambodian fighters a chance to see real MMA in its purest form,” A Fighter trainer Chan Hun told the Post.
“ONE FC is a huge production, and not many Cambodian fighters have ever been to or seen such a show. So it might light a fire under their asses and have them jump ship to MMA.”
The trainer was keen to emphasise the advantages of such a move.
“[It will mean] pretty much a whole new life for the Cambodian fighters that want to take it seriously and are not just looking for the next meal but at the bigger picture such as a world championship for giants like ONE FC,” he said.
“It will offer better pay and bigger fights and a huge exposure for Kun Khmer [Cambodian kickboxing].”
ONE FC announced a further regional expansion on Monday with an event to be held at the National Taiwan University Sports Centre in Taipei on July 11.
Titled "ONE FC: War of Dragons", the night marks the promotion’s first foray away from its established destinations of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta, and a potential view of cracking the Chinese market.
ONE FC will host its 16th fight card, titled "Honor & Glory", from its home base of Singapore tomorrow night.
StarSports will be broadcasting live coverage of the fights from 6pm Cambodian time, while MyTV will run a delayed program on Saturday morning from 7:30am with Cambodian commentary.
The 10-bout card at the 12,000-seater Singapore Indoor Stadium features a headlining clash between American wrestling master Ben Askren (12-0) and fearsome welterweight contender Bakhtiyar Abbasov (11-2) of Azerbaijan.