The growth of mixed martial arts in Asia is driven by regional promotions.
Regional promotions like Pacific X-treme Combat are setting the stage for a resurgence of mixed martial arts in Asia. Instead of focusing solely on Japan, as was the case with past promotions like PrideFC and DREAMFC, today the most forward-looking companies are developing the sport in the Pacific Rim and China.
“If you look at the entire area, originally Japan was the only Asian country that was into MMA and then it kind of died out,” said legendary referee “Big” John McCarthy after officiating PXC 33 in Manila, which took place on September 1st 2012. McCarthy was referring to the serial demise of the two dominant Japanese promotions of the last 15 years, Pride FC, which shut down in 2007, and Fighting Entertainment Group, which produced DREAMFC and ceased operations in February 2012. Despite the troubles of MMA in Japan, McCarthy sees opportunities for MMA in other parts of Asia because of the existing culture of martial arts and the increasing popularity of the lighter weight classes. “Now all the other countries in Asia are becoming involved and have so many good young lighter weight fighters that its just a matter of time before you see a lot of the top guys coming out of Asia again.”
McCarthy said he was surprised at how enthusiastic the fans in Manila were in the days leading up to PXC 33. “They are nuts about MMA, I’ve never been to a country where I was mobbed by more people everywhere I went than the Philippines, cooks coming out of the kitchen at the restaurants I'm eating at to meet me and things like that. It was amazing. They’re a fighting culture.”
The Philippines have long had a record of excellence with Boxing and the biggest boxing star in the world, six time World Champion, Manny Pacquiao hails from the island nation and is even a member of the Filipino congress.
PXC promoter EJ Calvo has high hopes for the roster of fighters his promotion is helping to develop in the Philippines. PXC has prides itself as an incubator for the next generation of talent and as the place for fans to watch future superstars in the early stages of their careers before they break out in the UFC. “Our Flyweight, Bantamweight, Lightweight and Featherweight divisions are all full of young talent from the Philippines and with more experience against elite fighters from the region, we expect that the Philippines will produce some of the world's toughest, as it has in Boxing." One name that stood out from PXC 33 was undefeated Filipino featherweight Mark Striegel. Striegel submitted his opponent early in the first round and McCarthy predicted that fans would see him in the UFC within the year.
Calvo notes his promotions record of developing talent, instead of signing aging stars on the downside of their careers, a practice he criticizes in some of PXC’s competitors in the region. PXC, he says, is where to see young hungry fighters on their way up. "We've released 2 of our top fighters to The UFC within the last three months including John Tuck who is competing in the UFC’s huge show in Macau on Nov 10th. We fully anticipate that others will be getting similar opportunities soon. PXC focuses on match-ups between the Asia-Pacific region's elite fighters, and our fans love to see rising talent climbing the rankings! There's so much talent in the Asia-Pacific that PXC will always have a stacked card with future stars on the rise."
Since is debut in 2004 Pacific X-treme Combat has produced over 50 professional and amateur events and is one of the longest running promotions in mixed martial arts. Based on the island of Guam, PXC recently signed a major TV deal with TV5 for the Philippines, airing free-to-air nationwide. The most recent broadcast, PXC-33 in September, recorded almost 500,000 viewers in the Philippines during live broadcast. PXC 34 will take place live in Manila in November and is planned to be PXC’s biggest event to date.