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Pacquiao acquires stake in MMA series

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao has acquired an undisclosed stake in One Fighting Championship, Asia’s leading mixed martial arts series.

The championship’s chief executive, Victor Cui, told the Yahoo Sports website that Pacquiao, the World Boxing Organisation welterweight champion, is a “relatively new MMA fan.”

“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 organisation as a shareholder and promoting One Fighting Championship and promoting the sport is huge for the sport in the region. It promotes awareness and growth.”

Pacquiao, who hails from the Philippines, owns a series of gyms across Asia, and each one offers MMA classes and training areas.

“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 added. “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. He knows we have a 90-per-cent market share (in Asia) and how strong our brand is in Asia. He knows the global reach of our organisation and there was a comfort level there.”