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ONE冠军赛如何在亚洲制胜UFC

2019年04月15日

摘自福布斯 | 2019年4月13日
作者:Brian Mazique

ONE冠军赛如何在亚洲制胜UFC

说到格斗组织,ONE冠军赛正处于亚洲之巅。尽管UFC在ONE冠军赛成立之前就已经在亚洲设立了办公室,并计划今年在中国开建一家训练中心,总部位于拉斯维加斯的UFC在亚洲却没能造成与其在西方同等的影响力。

如果你是一个美国综合格斗粉,这看起来似乎没什么大不了的,但是设想一下,如果ONE冠军赛在拥有着40亿人的大陆上占据绝对的主导地位将会怎样?虽然并非所有亚洲人都是格斗爱好者,但毫无疑问,各个格斗种类都深深的扎根在这片大陆上。如果你是美国人,那么很容易忽略亚洲的人口数量。我们中的许多人已经忘记了在这个国家之外,存在着更广阔的世界。总部位于新加坡的ONE冠军赛已经从一些全球最大的企业中获得了大量的投资。

当财政支持与ONE冠军赛创始人查特里·西尤堂的远见相结合时,自然就会如同狂风般席卷全部目标受众人群。
难怪ONE冠军赛在亚洲的表现比UFC更好。
我有机会通过电子邮件与西尤堂聊了聊,我们讨论了为什么他的组织能够在亚洲成为比UFC更好的格斗组织。对话很长,我们分为两部分来看。第二部分将会在后文中提到,听到坚定且自信的ONE冠军赛创始人对于该组织的成就、实践以及核心价值观的讨论颇为有趣。

迎合亚洲人民的文化和传统

“亚洲在过去的5000年里一直是格斗的发源地,”西尤堂说。“每个亚洲国家都拥有不同的格斗项目,这已经成为了我们DNA的一部分。ONE冠军赛具有神圣的使命,我们要创造英雄,用他们的希望、力量、梦想和感染力点燃世界。”
如果你看过ONE冠军赛的选手资料,或是关于下一场赛事对阵双方的书面材料,就会发现他们对于选手的原国籍以及对于当地规则的掌握程度。其中提到了中国选手的武术背景,也提到了缅甸选手的缅甸拳战绩。ONE冠军赛不仅仅只呈现综合格斗。此外还有泰拳和踢拳赛。在运动员名单当中,有来自130多个不同国家和格斗项目的世界冠军,值得注意的是,这些荣誉在ONE冠军赛的履历中不断被提及。除了跆拳道,摔跤,古典式摔跤,踢拳,柔术,拳击以及等级相对较低的桑博格斗和空手道,你很难听到UFC选手的格斗背景。当提到这些问题时,从视觉或语言的角度来看,确实与亚洲文化没有联系。
ONE冠军赛不断努力的凸显亚洲文化的每一方面。ONE冠军赛致力于在产品、运动员和他们赛事举办地的粉丝们之间建立联系。而UFC并没有充分迎合亚洲观众的需求,这也可能是为什么他们没有在亚洲市场充分发展起来的原因。根据西尤堂所说的,也许最重要的,是他们关注运动员正直和谦逊的品质。 “亚洲与西方不同,我们展示真正的传统格斗以及格斗冠军应有的品质,包括正直、谦逊、荣誉、勇气、纪律以及同情心。一切都是积极向上的。”不是每一位美国格斗粉都喜欢UFC的推广风格。一些粉丝对于康纳·麦格雷戈,科尔比·科文和TJ·迪拉肖的故事感到厌倦。有着最大争议的选手总能在UFC占据一席之地,这也使大多数美国综合格斗粉被吸引的原因。
尽管UFC的这种方式在美国取得了成功,但在亚洲却并未引起轰动。ONE冠军赛在亚洲的成功与UFC恰恰相反,他们与观众的价值观很好地保持了一致。

推崇亚洲国家英雄

ONE冠军赛的一些顶级选手在他们的职业生涯中曾经历了失败与挫折,但这些对他们的职业生涯反而有益。这些失败让ONE冠军赛的运动员从恢复中成长,比如ONE冠军赛重量级和轻重量级世界冠军昂拉恩桑,以及前ONE冠军赛轻量级世界冠军埃杜阿德·弗拉杨。选手的自身形象和品牌都得到了推广。尽管ONE冠军赛的影响力在亚洲是巨大的,但其也在努力向美国扩张。在亚洲,ONE冠军赛已经在各国创造了属于他们自己的超级英雄。
“昂拉恩桑在缅甸是绝对的巨星,”西尤堂说道。“缅甸人民为他打造了一座铜像,以纪念他在格斗运动中取得的成就,以及为国家所做的一切。数千人参加了这个仪式,场景可谓颇为壮观。”
昂拉恩桑经常在他的家乡缅甸出战,弗拉杨在菲律宾也是如此。这种做法不仅有利于在当地更好的培养出明星选手,也能够为赛事在当地的举办起到最大化的推动作用。拳迷们在这样的比赛中将情感最大限度的投入其中。
“弗拉杨一生都在与逆境抗争,也只有这样,他才能够在贫穷与困难中生存下来,他是国家的偶像级选手。数以百万级的菲律宾人在本土,以及世界各地都将弗拉杨视作楷模。重要的是我们要在当地培养出格斗英雄,培养出让我们引以为豪的男女选手,成为孩子们和整个社会的榜样。”
UFC使本土选手们尽可能多的在他们的家乡参加比赛,在美国,在巴西,但他们并没有像与ONE冠军赛类似的方式在当地开展赛事并铸就格斗英雄。尽管UFC在亚洲也采用了与其在西方相似的模式,但收效甚微。在亚洲的比赛数量过少可能是原因之一。此外,UFC的选手名单上没有足够的亚洲选手来支撑他们在亚洲举办赛事。实际上,UFC目前的世界冠军当中没有一位来自亚洲。
“各种粉丝都倾向于寻找与他们所支持选手的共同点,而在比赛中的亚洲选手很少,在冠军争夺中就更少了,因此很难与亚洲粉丝联系在一起。”
包括来自俄罗斯杜金卡的彼得·严,他也被列为亚洲选手的一份子,在UFC的15强选手中,只有3名来自亚洲的选手。韩国的郑赞盛与中国选手张伟丽是另外两名选手。为了直观的比较,ONE冠军赛拥有10位亚裔世界冠军,更有着无数实力好手能够作为世界冠军的有力争夺者。
这和ONE冠军赛与观众的紧密联系不可分开。ONE冠军赛在新加坡室内体育馆的比赛门票销售一空,在马尼拉的亚洲购物中心体育馆和缅甸图瓦纳室内体育馆也是一样,这也是主要因素之一。
“我们拥有李胜珠,她激励着全世界的女性努力去实现他们的梦想。她是来自ONE冠军赛的综合格斗史上最年轻的世界冠军。她已经证明,只要足够努力,任何梦想都能够实现。我们也有例如狄米崔斯·约翰逊以及艾迪·阿尔瓦雷兹这样的巨星,他们是全球最顶级的格斗家。ONE冠军赛的明星力量绝对是不可思议的。”
ONE冠军赛在亚洲各个国家努力打造属于他们的阵地,包括菲律宾,新加坡,马来西亚,印度尼西亚,日本,中国,缅甸,柬埔寨,韩国,越南和泰国。随着约翰逊、阿尔瓦雷兹和诺斯卡等美国选手的最新签约,ONE冠军赛很有可能将版图扩张至美国。

在日本举办赛事

在2007年收购Pride FC后,UFC仍然没有占领日本市场。 Pride FC是亚洲顶级格斗组织,但它已经不复存在。
UFC的粉丝似乎占据了日本当地格斗迷的很大一部分,但事实并不如此。 直到2012年收购Pride FC后,UFC才开始在日本举办比赛,而从那时起到现在,他们一共举办了五场比赛,2017年甚至一场也没有。在如此不稳定的表现下,留下一个坚实的足迹不是件容易的事。
“ONE冠军赛刚刚结束了在日本的首场比赛,这是我们迄今为止规模最大的一场比赛。”西尤堂说。“ONE冠军赛:创新纪元打破了包括观众数量在内的多项数据纪录。”通过尼尔森体育的数据显示,Facebook当天来自全球的观众达到了4100万观看人次。 “但这一切仅仅只是开始。今年十月ONE冠军赛将再次为日本带来一场精彩绝伦的比赛。我现在还不能透露细节,但这将会是另外一场世界级的史诗盛典。”
在日本持续举办比赛看似一个简单的计划,实则是为ONE冠军赛打开亚洲市场做出的主要决策。可以想象一旦在日本成为了顶尖格斗组织,所带来的收益在如今的大环境下是不可估量的。
“今后我们将每年在日本举办更多比赛,” 西尤堂说。“日本市场对ONE冠军赛来说非常重要。这里是很多格斗选手的出生地。日本的格斗精神与ONE冠军赛所传递出的精神也能够完美契合,产生共鸣。比如日本武士道,强调了荣誉,勇气,朴素,技巧和忠诚等原则——完全正确形容成为一名格斗家的核心价值观。”
而另一方面,在UFC刚刚发布的2019年上半年的计划中,日本站榜上无名。

战胜UFC成功进军大陆市场

中国大陆是亚洲地区另一个具有无限可能的地方,在进军大陆市场这一战,ONE同样大获全胜。
“亚洲有超过40亿人口,其中20亿人在同一时区。而又有很大一部分人口来自中国,所以我们致力于开拓中国市场,”西尤堂说。 “这些年我们在中国大陆举办过多场比赛,包括北京,上海,长沙和广州。我们还举办了ONE冠军赛超级系列赛,旨在发现中国那些潜力无限的年轻格斗家们。”UFC于2017年11月在中国大陆首次亮相,时隔一年后的2018年11月才再次来到中国大陆举办了第二场比赛。而ONE冠军赛自2014年以来,在大陆举办了12场赛事,2017年以来就有6场。不得不说,ONE冠军赛的存在维系了当地格斗粉的关系。 “ONE冠军赛还签约了’熊猫’熊竞楠这样实力超群的综合格斗世界冠军。” 西尤堂表示,“由于她在ONE冠军赛所展示出来的百折不挠的勇气,让很多中国人都心生敬佩。就在最近的东京站比赛上,熊竞楠在逆境中表现出的勇气和坚韧,让她在第五回合技术性击倒对手李胜珠取得了辉煌的胜利。”以扩大中国市场为目标,ONE冠军赛分别在北京和上海设立了公司办事处。 如今UFC也在为进军中国市场做着一系列准备,建造了华丽的训练营,但即使他们在中国进行大量投资,有如此完善的设施,也只是在追赶ONE的脚步。不得不承认UFC在美国的综合格斗领域独占鳌头,但是就亚洲的格斗粉丝们来说,UFC还没有成功抓住他们的心。

Source:Forbes | Apr 13, 2019
Brian Mazique

How ONE Championship Has Beaten The UFC In Asia

When it comes to martial arts organizations, ONE Championship sits at the top of the mountain in Asia. Despite the UFC setting up offices in Asia years before ONE Championship was founded, and making plans to open a Performance Institute in China this year, the Las-Vegas-based promotion hasn’t been able to establish the same kind of footprint in the East that it has in the West.
If you’re an American mixed martial arts fan, that may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: ONE Championship holds sway in a continent with over 4 billion people. While not all Asians are fans of martial arts, there is no question the various disciplines are deeply rooted in the cultures in every country on the continent.
It’s easy to forget how populous Asia is if you’re an American. Many of us tend to forget there is an entire world out there outside of our country.
The Singapore-based ONE Championship has been able to procure significant investment capital from some of the world’s largest firms.

ONE in Asia
CREDIT: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
When you combine the financial backing with the drive of a visionary like ONE founder Chatri Sityodtong and the natural tie-in to the product for the target audience, you have a perfect storm.
It’s no wonder ONE Championship has fared better in Asia than the UFC.
I had an opportunity to speak with Sityodtong via email, and we discussed the reasons his organization has been able to best the UFC in Asia. It was a long dialog and it was best to break it into two parts. The second part will come at a later time, but it’s fascinating to hear ONE’s determined and confident leader speak about his organization’s accomplishments, best practices, and core principles.
Catering to the Culture and Traditions of People in Asia
“Martial arts has been home to Asia for the past 5,000 years,” Sityodtong said. “There is a martial art in every Asian nation. It is part of our DNA. Our mission at ONE Championship is sacred, we want to build heroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration.”
If you read a ONE Championship athlete profile, or any writeup introducing a competitor in an upcoming event, their country of origin and their level of mastery with their local discipline is highlighted. The Wushu backgrounds of Chinese athletes are mentioned. Burmese martial artists have references made to their Lethwei records, and more. ONE also offers more than just MMA.
There are also Muay Thai bouts as well as kickboxing. The roster has over 130 world champions from a variety of disciplines, and what’s noteworthy is that these details aren’t lost on ONE. Those accolades will be mentioned consistently.
Aside from Taekwondo, wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and to a lesser degree sambo and karate, you don’t hear a lot of references to UFC athlete’s martial arts backgrounds.
When those references are made, there really is no linkage to Asian culture from a visual or verbal standpoint.

ONE Demo
CREDIT: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
ONE makes the effort to highlight every inch of Asian culture it can. It has worked to create a link between its product, the athletes and the fans of the countries it visits regularly. The UFC hasn’t catered its product to the Asian audience, and that could be why it hasn’t become a bigger deal on the continent.
Perhaps most important, at least according to Sityodtong, is the focus on the integrity and humility of its athletes.
“Asia’s heartbeat is very different from that of the West. We showcase the real tradition of martial arts and champion the true martial arts values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion. It’s all about positivity here.”
Not every American martial arts fan loves the UFC’s style of advertising. Some fans are tired of the Conor McGregor, Colby Covington and TJ Dillashaw stories. However, it does seem the athletes with the most controversy surrounding them are the ones getting the most opportunities with the UFC, and this is largely because American MMA fans seem to gravitate to them.
While that approach has proven successful for the UFC in the United States, it hasn’t caught fire in Asia. ONE has found success in Asia as the anti-UFC while being in tune with the audience and their values.
Accentuating the Heroes of a Variety of Countries in Asia
It’s almost helpful that some of the top stars with ONE have had patches during their careers where they have slumped, and taken some losses. These moments of failure have allowed ONE to assist with the recovery and ascension of athletes like ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion Aung La N Sang and former ONE Lightweight champion Eduard Folayang. The athlete’s images and brands have been pushed. While ONE’s presence in Asia is heavy, it is working to expand to the United States as well. More locally, ONE has made sure its athletes are established as stars in their own countries.
“N Sang is an absolute megastar in his home country of Myanmar,” said Sityodtong. “The people of Myanmar recently erected a bronze statue of him to honor his career and what he has done for the country. The ceremony was attended by thousands, creating a scene that was just surreal.”
N Sang competes regularly in his native Myanmar, and Folayang does the same in The Philippines. This approach not only helps to establish stars, but it also creates a great scene at the events. The fans on hand are emotionally invested in the outcomes of the biggest matches.
“Folayang, who had to overcome immense adversity throughout his life, to survive poverty and hardship, is a national icon. Millions of Filipinos not just in the Philippines, but all over the world, look to Eduard for inspiration. It is important for us to build local martial arts heroes – men and women who we can be proud of and who we can have our children look up to as role models of society.”

ONE Social
CREDIT: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
The UFC tries to place its athletes in competition in their hometowns as much as possible in the United States, and definitely in Brazil, but they are not celebrated by the promotion the way they are with ONE. Even in this scaled-back form, the practice hasn’t worked well for the UFC in Asia. Partly because the promotion comes to Asia so infrequently. Also, the UFC doesn’t have enough Asians on its roster to feature them in the few events it promotes on the continent. In fact, not one of the UFC’s current world champions is from a country in Asia.
Fans of all kinds tend to look for commonalities with the athletes they root for, and with a scant amount of Asians in competition–much less in title contention–I can see how it would be difficult for an Asian fan to relate to the product.
Including Petr Yan, who is from Dudinka, Russia which is listed as part of Asia, there are only three athletes from Asian countries ranked in the Top 15 of any division in the UFC. South Korea’s Chan Sung Jung and China’s Weili Zhang are the other two. To put the comparison into the proper perspective, ONE has 10 world champions who are of Asian descent, and countless more could realistically be described as contenders.
That level of representation is a major factor in connecting with an audience. It’s also part of the reason ONE sells out entire stadiums like the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the Mall of Asia Arena and the Thuwanna Indoor Stadium in Myanmar, per ONE.

“We’ve got Angela Lee, who inspires women of all ages all across the globe to reach for their dreams. She’s the youngest world champion in mixed martial arts history and comes from a family of martial artists. She’s proven that any dream is achievable with the right amount of hard work and dedication. We also have stars such as Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, who are among the best of the best martial artists in the world, bar none. The ONE Championship star power is unbelievable.”
ONE has gone to great lengths to establish a link to several nations in Asia, such as the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, China, Myanmar, Cambodia, South Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. With its recent signings of American athletes like Johnson, Alvarez and Sage Northcutt, ONE could be looking to lay similar roots in the United States.
Setting Up A Rotation of Events in Japan
After acquiring the assets to Pride FC in 2007, the UFC still hasn’t taken a hold of Japan. Pride was the top Asian martial arts organization, but it folded.
It seemed possible for the UFC to assume a good percentage of its fanbase, but the promotion’s presence in Japan isn’t apparent. The UFC didn’t have a show in Japan after the acquisition of Pride until 2012, and since then, there have been only five and none since 2017. It’s hard to establish a footprint with an inconsistent presence.
“ONE Championship has just finished with its inaugural event in Japan, and it’s been our biggest show yet,” said Sityodtong. “ONE: A New Era broke a multitude of viewership records and other statistics.”
The show registered 41 million global viewers, per Sityodtong on Facebook, who referenced data collected Nielsen Sports.
But this is only just the beginning. ONE Championship is returning to Tokyo in October with another incredible card. I can’t say the specifics just yet, but it’s going to be another world-class spectacle.”
Simply having a plan to consistently promote shows in Japan is a major deal in the Asian market. It’s almost incalculable how much revenue a promotion could earn in today’s climate if it were able to become the undisputed king of martial arts organizations in Japan.
“Eventually we’ll move up to more events per year in Japan,” said Sityodtong. “The Japanese market is really very important to ONE Championship. It’s the birthplace of many martial arts. The principles of Japanese martial arts very much resonates with ONE Championship’s values. The concept of Bushido, for example, principles which emphasize honor, courage, frugality, skill, and loyalty — truly speaks to the heart of what it is to be a martial artist.”
As of now, the UFC has released its event schedule for the first six months of 2019, and there isn’t an event announced for Japan.
Beating The UFC to Mainland China
Mainland China is another coveted region in Asia, and ONE has beaten the UFC to the punch there as well.

“Asia has over 4 billion people, with 2 billion of those people in the same time zone. A huge chunk of that population comes from China and we are dedicated to our efforts on developing the Chinese market,” said Sityodtong. “We’ve held multiple shows in mainland China over the years, with events in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, and Guangzhou. We have also developed the ONE Hero Series, which aims to discover young, up-and-coming martial artists from China.”
The UFC made its debut in mainland China in November 2017, and it has been back just one time since then, and that was in November 2018. ONE has had 12 events in the region since 2014, and six since 2017. Again, it helps to have a local champion to whom fans of the region can relate.

“ONE Championship also has one of the most dominant world champions in mixed martial arts in ‘The Panda’ Xiong Jing Nan,” said Sitoydtong. “Many of the Chinese people look up to Jing Nan because of the courage and bravery she has showcased in the ONE Circle. Just recently, Jing Nan had to overcome great adversity in her bout against Lee in Tokyo. She showed grit and tenacity, surviving an armbar to win in the fifth round by technical knockout.”
ONE Championship has established corporate offices in both Beijing and Shanghai with expansion in China as their primary objective. The UFC has invested heavily in planting its flag in China with the construction of the Performance Institute, but even with such a handsome facility, it is playing catch-up.
The UFC has a grip on MMA in the United States, but it hasn’t yet gotten a grasp on a successful pitch to Asian martial arts fans.