Manny Pacquiao will not be stepping in the Octagon soon, but his recent moves shows his interest in the rising sport.
Pacman purchased an undisclosed number of shares in the Asian-based Mixed Martial Arts league, One Fighting Championship. CEO Victor CUI confirmed the development to Yahoo! Sports who first reported the financial move of the superstar Filipino boxer.
"I'm pretty pumped," Cui said. "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."
While the pound-for-pound top ranked boxer has a wide array of business ventures his entry to MMA is remarkable given that many were earmarking him to join the foray of the discipline once his boxing contract is up. He also has a number of gyms in Asia which offer MMA classes and training facilities.
Cui also described the instance when the eight division world champion tried on MMA gloves. He noticed a grin across Pacman face as if measuring heavier hits that an opponent will suffer due to the gloves being lighter and thinner in material and weight. MMA gloves only weigh at around four ounces and understandably, a Manny Pacquiao cross can put an opponent to sleep with that thin material.
Cui and the Pacquiao camp are banking on the rising awareness and popularity of MMA in the Philippines and couple that with the steady superstardom of Manny Pacquiao who is already an actor, a singer and a congressman. The UFC has long been targeting the Philippines and Asia in general, as new grounds to promote the sport. In 2008, the league sent Chuck Lidell to the Philippines to perform a mini-camp which drew close to 5,000 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."
The One Fighting Championship CEO also expressed interest in staging a press conference in Manila announcing the tie-up with the country's biggest athlete, if his schedule would allow it. The Filipino is currently busy preparing for the upcoming defense of his WBO welterweight title against Chris Algieri that will happen on November 22 in Macau, China.