ONE It represents a single entity, sometimes referred to as unity.
ASIA Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent. It covers 30% of the Earth's land area and hosts 60% of the world's current human population. Given its size and diversity, Asia "is more a cultural concept" incorporating diverse regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity. - Wikipedia
MMA Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground. The roots of modern mixed martial arts can be traced back to the ancient Olympics. - Wikipedia
SUMMIT 1. The highest point or part; the top. 2. The highest level or degree that can be attained. 3. a. The highest level, as of government officials. b. A conference or meeting of high-level leaders, usually called to shape a program of action
The words above each symbolize powerful concepts. When placed together, they galvanize an entire community into action. The ONE Asia MMA Summit, held in Singapore over the weekend of June 1st through 3rd, 2012, brought approximately 150 people from around the Austral-Asian region together to educate, collaborate, elevate, and shape the future of the sport. It was a remarkable historic achievement.
The event was sponsored and hosted by ONE Fighting Championship, whose increasing star power attraction and aggressively forecast international schedule have made it the behemoth of MMA in Asia. Aside from the first ever MMA summit in Asia, ONE FC aims to be the first and only promotion to create and manage a cross-promotional network, an exclusive gym network, and an official fighter-sharing collaboration. It is neither slowly nor conservatively approaching these objectives - ONE FC is doing it BIG. Owner and CEO Victor Cui stated, "I have no doubt that in the next few years, MMA will be a household word everywhere in Asia." That's big. In the words of panelist and industry-driver Chatri Sityodtong, CEO of Evolve MMA,
"How big? VERY BIG."
And 'big' was the theme of the event. ONE FC Network members were flown in from Kazakhstan to South Korea, Japan to Australia. Media was flown in from across the region and all the way from North America. Guests were hosted at the bigzillion dollar Marina Bay Sands Resort - the one with the big infinity pool on the roof top. In big kingsize beds. With balconies big enough to fit a BJJ competition area in. The guest passes were big. The summit program itself was bigger than the hotel's guest book.
For many, the ONE Asia MMA Summit was a reunion, much like another fight event, only without the stress and focus of an impending match the following day. In fact the sequence of events ran almost backwards of a promotion, with the cocktail reception on Friday night serving as an after party of sorts, and the final Sunday break-out session as would be the typical first sit-down gathering for a rules meeting.
The Summit kicked off in the Fuse Bar at the hotel. Meetings regarding the panel sessions were already taking place in small groups throughout the bar as guests started to arrive for the 8:00 pm reception.
Victor greeted each guest and mingled casually, allowing everyone some time to meet and get acclimatized - and take pictures with The PRIDE Lady Lenne Hardt - before black belt MC Jason Chambers introduced his reception speech.
The typically amiable and enthusiastic CEO kept his message short and personal. "I'm like a kid in a candy shop," Victor said. "I'm seeing everyone getting a chance to get to know each other, exchange business cards, and become friends." After speaking in this theme for a minute, Victor presented an engaging directive for the attendees. "We have a lot of things to discuss, and I hope you get as much as you can out of it," he urged, "And spend as much time working together and networking, and making the relationships that will take this sport to the next level of where it's headed in Asia." The video of the full speech can be watched here.
|Potato chips in a solid gold chaffing dish. If that's not big, what is?|
The evening progressed until everyone had made the rounds at least twice. Sasahara Keiichi was allowed to down one glass of red before fielding the inevitable enquiries about DREAM.
Moon Hung Jung was holding court on a settee and targeting contacts through his interpreter, graciously bestowing ROAD FC swag on them.
Bubbles Aguilar looked more like a fashion mogul than the URCC co-founder as she strolled in her stilettos with a glass of champagne. And CFC Co-owner Luke Pezzutti kept it real and brought hearty enthusiasm from Australia.
Evolve MMA's Chatri and the renowned combat journalist Eddie Goldman of No Holds Barred shared one of many encounters over the Summit weekend. Not all of them were this light-hearted, but every exchange was productive and for the cause of promoting the positive growth of MMA in Asia.
On the quieter end of the spectrum was Coach Mark Sangiao of Team Lakay Philippines, actually loosening up a bit.
Another representative of the Philippines making the rounds and bombarded with photo requests from fans was Ole Laursen, founder of Legacy Gym in Ubon and now Boracay. Affiliated local Singaporean gym Juggernaut Fight Club's Arvind Lalwani graciously provided the last round.
Marcos Escobar didn't partake of the last round. The BJJ black belt founder of Leverage and pioneer in Malaysia is in fight camp for his MMA debut on the next ONE FC card.
Fellow pioneer of the Indonesian MMA and BJJ scene is Niko Han of Synergy.
As the evening progressed, the photographer seemed to decline in skill level. Here's a parting shot with Boyd Clarke of Phuket Top Team.
Many more gyms, fighters, media representatives, sponsors, and promoters were on hand. From as far as Pakistan and as local as other Singaporeans, the participants were all just as eager to see what exciting events would unfold at the inaugural ONE Asia MMA Summit. The continuation of coverage on the Summit will transpire in the next column: Day 2.