One Fighting Championship, Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organisation, have announced the launch of their ONE Asia Amateur MMA Series, which is set to provide an unprecedented platform for regional cage fighters to develop their skills against other aspiring professionals.
The series is part of the Singapore-based promotion’s drive to grow the sport of MMA in Asia and will be held in association with ONE FC network partners to provide opportunities for its exclusive gym partners, as well as helping to groom amateur fighters for the leap to the pro ranks.
ONE FC CEO Victor Cui stated in a press release: “This is big, very big, and I’m excited to be building this Asia-wide amateur series because we have already received tremendous support from our sponsors, partners and gyms on this initiative.”
Founded by trainer Im Ouk, Phnom Penh’s A Fighter MMA Club is the only gym to be officially associated with ONE FC, and last week sent local kickboxing champion Long Sophy to Jakarta to become the Kingdom’s first fighter in the ONE FC cage.
The 23-year-old Battambang native suffered a submission loss against Indonesia’s Max Metino, a decision which was contested by his team after the referee appeared to stop the bout without Sophy tapping out.
A Fighter Club, who are slated to send another of its students to ONE FC’s event next month, help some of Cambodia’s most renowned combatants pursue a career in the rapidly growing sport of MMA.
Im Ouk told the Post yesterday that, although he thought the amateur series was “great to have”, there were some concerns whether his fighters would be eligible as they were all professionals.
“We want our fighters to gain experience . . . but I don’t know if they will be allowed to compete. Are they [considered] amateurs in MMA?” he asked.
“Physically they are a lot stronger than other local amateurs. They train every day and their [fighting] levels are very different. We would be happy to do it [fight in the amateur series], but I’m worried about producing mismatches.
“Nobody here wanted to fight Long Sophy [in an MMA bout], even if we put two against one. Would local karate and taekwondo guys go up against guys who’ve had one hundred kickboxing fights?”
The trainer also noted there would be difficulties in staging an amateur event on Cambodian soil. “Amateurs here can’t even afford the entrance fee to competitions, let alone the costs of training,” he added.
ONE FC are keen to stay true to their commitment of hosting events in every affiliated country and have pledged to work closely with A Fighter club to develop the amateur talents of the Kingdom.
“We will also reach out to all the gyms in Cambodia to become a part of the network as the growth of mixed martial arts in Cambodia is starting to take off exponentially,” a ONE FC official told the Post yesterday.