While no doubt eager for ONE FC’s September event in Jakarta, fans in Singapore will be in for a special treat when ONE arrives at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in October: Sherilyn Lim fighting in the second ever women’s ONE FC match. Lim will follow in the footsteps of fellow Singaporean, Nicole Chua, who fought and won at ONE FC 3 back in March. ONE has not named an opponent for Lim yet.
Though an article in Yahoo Sports Singapore stated that Lim “downplayed her readiness for the big leagues,” the same article said she “refused to rule out the possibility of making a livelihood from combat sports.”
Lim has every reason to think she can make it as a professional fighter in ONE FC. The company’s CEO, Victor Cui, has repeatedly and enthusiastically expressed support for women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA). In an interview with canada.com, Cui stated:
“ONE FC has always been open to having women compete. We had a women’s bout in our third event. We are constantly looking for women fighters that are good enough to enter the ONE FC cage.”
In an interview with middleeasy.com, Cui said:
“Yes, I do want female fighters. If they are the best in what they do, whether it is muay-thai in Thailand, Silat in Indonesia, Kung Fu in China, Karate in Japan, or Taekwondo in Korea, Asia has been the birthplace and home of martial arts for the last 5,000 years . . . .I don’t care if it’s male or female, a champion is a champion.”
In an interview with Sherdog, he said:
“We have had one female fight on a One FC card, and it worked really well. We would love to have more, and we are looking to put female fights on future cards.”
This is in stark contrast to UFC president, Dana White, who once insisted that women will never fight in the UFC. Though White eventually softened his stance, he also made it clear that current UFC Bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, is the only reason WMMA is happening in the UFC.
However, while Cui has been far more supportive of WMMA than White has, it would be a mistake to think that the CEO of ONE FC is ready to challenge anyone’s conservative views on female fighters. Again, in Sherdog, Cui said:
“The response has been great, but some countries are not ready to hold female fights. There are some places that are still too conservative, especially in Muslim countries like Indonesia. We try to remain sensitive to each country’s political and cultural norms.”
Such statements should be expected from Cui. ONE is a business, and like all businesses, pleasing the client is rule number one for survival.
Still, Cui’s reluctance to challenge such conservative demands should not dampen Lim’s hopes of fighting professionally. After all, Cui’s final words on WMMA in his Sherdog interview were:
“ . . . in other markets, like Singapore, we’re ready [for women’s MMA] if we can find the right matchup.”
Lim will therefore not only be fighting with the support of her country, but with the support of a powerful CEO who is eager to make WMMA in ONE FC a reality. And it is here that female fighters like Sherilyn Lim have a distinct advantage over their UFC counterparts: the ONE FC fighters are working for a man who has always been an eager champion, rather than reluctant supporter, of WMMA.