This article starts with a piece about Road FC president Mr. Jung Mun-Hong (aka. Mr. Moon to the foreign press)
Mr. Moon released a statement about the UFC and it’s president Mr.Dana White, in an interview with the Korean Times. (source)
Road Fighting Championship President Jung Mun-hong said Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is “cheap” for taking domestic talent without providing appropriate compensation to the organizations where the fighters honed their skills.
During a recent interview with The Korea Times, Jung expressed his frustration over losing former Road FC bantamweight champion Kang Kyung-ho to UFC after he signed a contract with the world’s biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization in July. The 25-year-old won the Korean outfit’s inaugural title.
“Do you know how much of our resources we spend to discover and develop talent? It was a great loss for us,” Jung said. “However, Kang really wanted to go, so I let him, even though UFC didn’t pay anything to our organization.”
Jung said the harsh logic of capitalism is pervasive in the sport where UFC dominates noting, “They use their reputation to recruit talent, while the talent-builders like us get nothing.”
Korea has produced many top-class fighters such as Kim Dong-hyun and Jung Chan-sung, proving it has a wealth of talent. However, many young athletes do not have many opportunities to fight and develop in Korea. Jung said providing such chances to young fighters was the biggest motivation in starting Road FC.
“I really believe Korean fighters have great potential on the international stage. With a constant talent drain for nothing, however, it’s really tough to keep the domestic scene competitive,” Jung said. “But we have definitely made some progress over the past two years and now we are ready to revive the sport’s past glory here.”
Road FC is the largest MMA organization in Korea following the closure of Spirit MC in 2009. With an upcoming event in Busan on Nov. 24, Jung said in a determined voice that it will be a good chance for domestic fighters show what they can do.
“UFC is pretty well-known in Korea, but the popularity of Pride FC was simply incomparable. At that time, everyone knew star fighters like Mirko Crocop and Fedor Emelianenko,” Jung said. “What we are trying to do is to rekindle the enormous MMA popularity that Pride initiated here.”
Pride FC used to be one of the world’s most popular MMA organizations with the biggest live audience record in the sport of over 70,000 at a Shockwave bout co-produced with K-1 at the Tokyo National Stadium in August 2002. Pride was sold to UFC’s owners in March 2007.
“I think we have an edge in terms of having a better understanding about Asian culture. And I will stand up to high-handedness of the rich U.S. counterpart,” Jung said. “Let’s see how successful Korean talent can be without relying on the reputation of UFC.”
Very interesting statement and very truthful as well. UFC have the position to poach the best of the best – they are after all the ‘pinnacle’ for most MMA fighters. The chance at the biggest pay checks in MMA, the most exposure and the best fights. This is why UFC have the upper-hand. However it would be nice to see a way that the UFC could ‘give back’ to the organisations like ROAD FC, who feed them so much talent – take the risks, market and grow the young fighters…. only to have them taken once they are ripe.
This leads us into another topic and a second article….
The impending battle for Asian MMA
ONE FC have come out hard and signed up much of the Asian MMA talent. UFC have decided in 2013 they will be pushing to crack the Asian MMA market. We heard earlier (source) that the UFC is looking to hold 8-10 events in Asia in 2013, naming the events ‘Asian Fight Series’ and to showcase much of the Asian talent.
This could lead us into contract battles with ONE FC (who currently hold a good 90% of the notable Asian names in MMA) and ROAD FC (who have just come out and said they are not so happy with there fighters being regularly pinched in there prime)
Obviously promotions like PXC, Legend FC, URCC etc will also be looking to hold the talent they have, in order to put on high level shows.
UFC is an aggressive business model – and to be honest i think it’s fair to say ONE FC is equally aggressive in business and dealing with competition.
ROAD FC seem less aggressive (offering many fighters non-exclusive deals) – However i think Mr. Moon is suggesting he has limits of good faith, and the UFC is testing them.
Will we have a battle for Asian MMA in 2013?
My thoughts – YES…. and I HOPE SO.
If the market becomes more competitive then so should the fighters pay days.
The scene in Asia has spread far beyond just Japan and Korea – many non-Asian fighters have made the move into Asia looking for new and exciting opportunities Lets hope that more sponsors jump on board to support these guys and also to support the promotions such as ONE FC, ROAD FC, Legend, PXC, URCC etc.
ONE FC seem to have a very strong structure to grow and show longevity in the Asian community – much like URCC and ROAD FC have been able to do.
Fighter pays will always be brought up for every region and every organisation, we would like to make it clear, we are not having a shot at any organisation or there pay structure – more so we are excited about the growing competition and hope this means fighters can in the future earn more.