Walking into a ONE FC ring for the first time, Stephen Langdown had more to prove than one would expect from an amateur fighter. Aside from the pressure of performing in his native Singapore, Langdown’s placement alongside names like Bibiano Fernandes and Shinya Aoki had to be justified, as did the decision to pit him against Borneo Karate Champion Marc Marcellinus. Langdown had to prove that popularity on social media translates into MMA success.
The 20-year-old Singaporean trained in mixed martial arts for about two years before signing with Asia’s premier promotion. In fact, Langdown did not have a professional match under his belt before signing with ONE FC. He got a contract solely on word of mouth and a training video posted to YouTube. The video has since been removed, but you can watch Langdown’s ONE FC debut below.
In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Langdown said that he posted the video to get feedback on his workout, unaware of the attention he would garner.
”I’m still getting my shot to prove myself and that’s all I need. It doesn’t matter how I get the chance, as long as I get it.” With a large Instagram and Twitter following, Langdown has embraced the modern method of gaining worldwide fame.
In 2005, Kimbo Slice inadvertently used YouTube as an audition tape for MMA and boxing promotions. Following jobs as a bouncer and limousine driver, Slice became a street fighter. Many of his unsanctioned scrums were videotaped and later posted to YouTube and much like Langdown, Slice’s online fame caught the attention of Atlantic City-based Cage Fury Fighting Championships. Stints in EliteXC and UFC made Slice a household name, even if his MMA career was short lived.
Dana White has made no secret of social media’s importance to the UFC .
“The video blogs are pulling huge numbers now, and that’s the power of the Internet and the ability it gives us to talk directly to our fans. It’s so powerful and information moves so fast for so many people. It’s an exciting time for someone in a business like this because you can interact with so many people directly,” White said in an interview with Mashable.
Fighters are encouraged to Tweet to expand their brand, further storylines, and bring notoriety to the UFC. White even grants quarterly bonuses to the most avid users. This has led to over 11 million Facebook “likes” and 1.4 million Twitter followers.
“Any new thing that comes out with the ability to enhance our show or my ability to communicate with fans and give people more behind-the-scenes access, you know we’ll be all over it,” White said.
Langdown is far from joining White’s payroll, but he demonstrates the same values instilled in UFC fighters. In simply posting a picture and training videos, Langdown is branding himself for a career in MMA. “The power of social media,” Langdown said, “It helps me stand out.”