“Over the next 10 years, there is no guarantee of absolute success in the domestic mixed martial arts business. But Road FC and Korean MMA will never be ruined, we’re going to the end of the ROAD.”
Looking at the Road FC’s CEO’s words, they don’t seem to make sense at all. If you can’t succeed in the domestic business of mixed martial arts, his claims of continuing to try anyway are not easily understood.
But if you look at closely at him you’ll be able to understand. What he is trying to express is that Road FC is able to realize that if it quickly jumps only forward, it’s going to sink.
So in the spirit of making the impossible possible, Road FC announced the latest sensational news. A permanent stadium, where it intends to hold a new league competition.
This decision is for the growth of domestic MMA. Road FC has the potential to be a catalyst in the development of mixed martial arts. Major tournaments will still exist, and the monthly contest will act separately so most of the domestic fighters can have hope to compete. This scheme is the part that appeals to domestic players and seems to be significant.
But, the CEO’s painting still remains unfinished. A small arena has been built and a new league started, but now is the time he must fight very hard to move forward and make it a success.
Here is the interview
You opened a permanent arena, and at the same time announced a new league. Please tell the background to this decision.
▲ It’s a globalization strategy, Road FC has more established fighters than beginners, so it’s hard to give rookies or mid-grade fighters more chances. It’s my first mission to solve this. Actually we have a league already to cover this, “Young Guns”, but it is too limited to overcome the shortcomings. The new competition will encompass amateur guys to all grades of fighters and it will be from where the existing powerhouses come.
So Central and Into League fighters also can go up this league?
▲ Of course they can. I will give a chance to anyone who wins four times in those leagues, and if someone puts on an impressive fight in new league, he will be taken to the ROAD FC main events.
Building an arena is interesting. It is rare in the domestic scene and I think it’s the first time in the history of MMA.
▲ Actually it’s been exaggerated in the news. It’s not huge, it just accommodates around 400 people but I think it will work well for the new league. The important fact is we made a place only for MMA. We continue to look for a better place in the Gangnam area of Seoul. I think we’ll find it very soon, and this will be a private stadium.
Tell us about the arena.
It’s about 15,000 square feet. There are foldable stand seats installed and it’s equipped with lighting and a sound system for the main broadcast. An LED billboard will also be installed.
What kind of grade is this league? And what level fighters will fight?
▲ It’s where existing amateurs can grow up and where most of the existing players within the Road FC will come back down. For example, if Lee Eunsoo loses many matches, he has to fight in this league even though he took a championship belt before, and if he puts on a good fight, then he’ll return to the Road FC main events. The main events will be reserved for popular fighters, foreign fighters, and championship bouts. In other words, the new league is higher than the Young Guns tournament.
You have any idea about the title of the new league?
▲ I’m still considering it – if you have some good names please recommend them to me! (laughs).
What are your concrete plans for the new league?
▲ So far I have a base direction. Basically we have a event for a every month but in this year we avoid the months that have a main event, but from next year we will have an event every month. One tournament will consist of 10-12 events, divided into two recorded broadcasts. One part will be the tournament, broadcast a week later, and the second will be the Championship, three weeks later.
This league is held separately from the main events. You have a investor for this league?
▲ No, I’m spending my own money. I will do it until I have help.
What’s the final plan of the coliseum?
▲ Actually we didn’t have time to find a place in Gangnam so that’s why we built it outside of Seoul. If we find another good place, we’ll probably open up another league. In the end, we’ll have a private stadium in Wonju. By 2015 there will be a high-speed train from Seoul that makes it possible to do this. We’ve already prepared some land to build it.
I think you’ve spent a lot of your own money already, why don’t you go a little slower?
▲ In Korea we have a saying “striking while the iron is hot”. And I don’t know how to go backwards.
You always look tired.
▲ I sleep about 1-2 hours a day. Seriously. Even during the Lunar New Year holiday I didn’t stop properly. Every day I have conferences and meetings with officials in Seoul about the development direction we envision and for coming out with the news. I have no time to look good. A few months ago I was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage. But the hardest part is that can’t train my fighters at TEAM FORCE. I feel very sorry that I can’t help them with training.
Your staff also seem to be quite troubled.
▲ They are almost dead! (laughs) A lot of them were just my students, but they are hard-nosed and tough to fit my style. I have about 30 staff, when we have an event it ramps up to about 100 people. These people get Road FC rolling.
Any final comments?
▲ As I told you before, over the next 10 years, there is no guarantee of absolute success in the domestic mixed martial arts business. But Road FC and Korean MMA will never be ruined, we’re going to the end of the ROAD.