Manny Pacquiao may be new to the MMA game, but he’s jumping right in.
The fighter recently bought an undisclosed number of shares in the Asian-based One Fighting Championship. “I’m pretty pumped,” the company’s CEO Victor Cui told Yahoo. “There are a ton of reasons why I’m pretty excited about this. Obviously, Manny Pacquiao is a global sports icon and having him as a part of our organization as a shareholder and promoting One FC and promoting the sport is huge for the sport in the region. It promotes awareness and growth.”
Not that Pacquiao is giving up boxing. He is set to defend his WBO welterweight title against Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 in Macau. He may be a “relatively new MMA fan,” Ciu says, but Pacquiao’s gyms in Asia offer MMA classes and training. Known for throwing a hard punch, Pacquiao was intrigued by One FC gloves because they weigh four ounches — half what Pacquiao’s gloves weigh.
“You could see him calculating the difference from the boxing gloves to the MMA gloves,” Cui said. “He said to me, ‘Man, someone could get hurt with the power of my punches if I could wear these.’ ”
MMA is growing in popularity in Asia and UFC the Philippines, which is where Pacquiao comes in. UFC would love to hold an event in Pacquiao’s homeland, where a Chuck Liddell workout drew 4,000 fans. “There are a lot of common fans and common ties with MMA and boxing [in the Philippines] and MMA awareness is much stronger than it is in other parts of Asia,” Cui said. “Manny has been looking for some opportunities outside of boxing, and he and his team have kept an eye on the sport of MMA. It made a lot of sense to him.”