Asia’s $US1 billion fight firm, One Championship, is set to infiltrate the US market on October 13th, using a radically different promotional approach to what viewers are accustomed to with the UFC.
According to Chatri Sityodtong, the founder and CEO of One Championship, the UFC has tainted Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) with its promotion of fights using “anger, hatred, and violence,” and is at odds with the martial art traditions that have developed in Asia for the past 5,000 years.
ONE Championship has scandal-free, family-friendly athletes on its roster and promotes events by presenting fighters as superheroes, which is a contrast to the way UFC hypes fights and fighters.
For example, the UFC used footage of a crime scene in the build-up to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor’s lightweight title fight at UFC 229 when they showed multiple angles of the Irishman finding a metal dolly in a parking lot, picking it up, and throwing it at a bus carrying UFC athletes.
The dolly smashed a window injuring people on board and McGregor was charged with criminal mischief and assault.
Sityodtong has previously said McGregor, who is MMA’s biggest box office attraction in that territory, would be a failure in Asia and not as popular an athlete as he is in Europe and the States.
“I have a lot of respect for Conor, he’s just not a guy for ONE Championship or Asia,” Sityodtong told ESPN at the time.
Sityodtong is only interested in promoting scandal-free superheroes.
“When I have company meetings with my staff, I always say our success is measured when a child puts a poster of one of our heroes on his or her bedroom wall,” Sityodtong told Business Insider.
“I want parents to know that their children are safe in the hands of our heroes.
“We celebrate values of integrity, humility, honour, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion.
“We unleash heroes who inspire and unite countries and tell their stories of impossible triumphs over improbable odds.”
The UFC dominates the mixed martial arts landscape with an 80% market share of the western hemisphere, but ONE Championship controls 90% of the market share in the Eastern hemisphere and is confident its “refreshing” values of heroes and stories will be successful in the U.S market.
“The US market is waiting for something fresh, refreshing, and uplifting,” Sityodtong said.
“The American audience is tired of all the negativity, anger, controversy, not just in combat sports but the political landscape.
“I lived in America for 18 years, and I don’t recognise the America I see today when I see the divisiveness and hatred.
“America is going through a difficult period in its history, and ONE Championship is going to be very refreshing and will be very welcome in terms of the way we celebrate heroes, values, and stories.”
ONE Championship is promoting the biggest and most ambitious event of its eight-year history at the famous sumo wrestling arena, the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, on October 13.
It will be the organisation’s 100th show, one stacked with title fights featuring prominent athletes like former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, Angela Lee, and Xiong Jingnan.
The ONE Century show will be broadcast to American audiences via BR Live and TNT.