摘自福布斯 | 2019年4月13日
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。
“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
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.
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.”
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.