ONE CEO & Founder talks U.S. expansion and how it will be different from UFC in SBJ interview

July 12, 2019

In an interview with the Sports Business Journal, ONE Championship’s Chatri Sityodtong talked about the company’s inroads into the United States.

The company’s Founder and CEO described ONE as the power in the Eastern hemisphere and the UFC as the power in the Western hemisphere to comprise of a global duopoly in the field of MMA.  However, he distinguishes his product as more than just MMA as it also includes boxing, kickboxing and other forms of martial arts.

ONE Championship believes it can differentiate itself from other MMA promotions by focusing more on the spirit of martial arts rather than the violence and controversy.  Notably, Sityodtong stated that even if Conor McGregor were a free agent, he would not sign him.

With the company opening satellite offices in New York and Los Angeles, the speculation is that a stateside card will occur sooner than later.  Sityodtong stated that they are searching for a U.S. president to head ONE Championship operations.  As far as an event in the U.S. the company is taking “baby steps” per Sityodtong.

Payout Perspective:

We may have to wait a while to see how the ONE expansion has done in the U.S.  Certainly, doing a slow roll-out may be prudent considering the competition in the market and gaging what will work with U.S. audiences.  It’s clear with the money they are investing into the U.S., the plan will be to market something as an alternative to the UFC.  Will it work with the U.S. audiences and will it appeal to a particular demo.  Time will tell.

ONE discusses massive expansion of scheduled events for 2020

June 20, 2019

One Championship announced a plan to produce 80 shows and a big roster expansion in 2020 as the Singapore-based company likely will make its way to the United States.

CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed the plans to the Associated Press on Wednesday.  One is putting on 45 events in Asia but looks to almost double the events next year.  Although Asia is still a core market, there are rumblings about holding its first U.S. show in 2020.

Citing the UFC as a direct competitor, Sityodtong noted how its business is different from the UFC’s “double paywall.”  “We are focused on maximum distribution, maximum reach, frequency and engagement, and making our product accessible to the entre world,” said One’s CEO.

The news comes amid the announcement that the organization is opening up U.S. offices in Los Angeles and New York this summer.

Payout Perspective:

The organization has flouted its new found funding based on an astronomical valuation of the company although it has been questioned.  The ambitious schedule of events will call for a lot of the capital to be spent prior to its return on the investment.  The concern for the company is that it may be growing too fast.  While it is bullish on the rise of MMA and the amount of money out there for people to spend on it and the content it provides, there comes a point where one must ask how much is too much.  We shall see how One decides to expand, where and how soon.

ONE Championship issues agent certification requirements

April 29, 2019

ONE Championship announced that it has strengthened its agent certification with minimum requirements and eligibility requirements.

A glaring requirement to be an agent for ONE Championship is being a resident in Asian for one year.  In addition, the agent must not have a criminal record, no history or current ongoing matters of legal or lawsuit activity with any activity.  There is also a requirement that the agent must have 10 years of related experience in the martial arts industry and must have a college or university degree.

The announcement comes at a time when the company announced a TV and Film Production Arm One Studios to complement its current assets.

Unlike other professional sports like MLB, NBA or NFL which requires certifications for agents to represent players, the standards are cleared by player associations.  Here, it does not appear that that is the case.  Moreover, the requirements can seemingly eliminate many agents for any instance that have had a contract dispute with a fighter even if the agent was in the right.

The move may be seen as a way to protect fighters and safeguard the money they make and ensure that only the most experienced in the business are involved.  On the other hand, one may argue that this is a way to control the fighter pool to ensure that the promotion has a cadre of agents that will cede to ONE Championship in contract negotiations knowing that they could be de-certified.  It also forecloses many U.S.-based agencies without an office in Asia.

We shall see if this new certification requirements equates to a foreclose of access to ONE fighters especially those like Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt who had representation in the U.S.

ONE Championship debut draws 176,000 on TNT

April 2, 2019

ONE Championship MMA: A New Era drew 176,000 viewers Monday night on TNT for the replay of its Tokyo event this past weekend per Nielsen.  The event was also available live on the B/R App live.

Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez made their promotional debuts on the card.  Johnson earned a second round submission over Yuya Wakamstsu.  However, Alvarez was upset falling to Russian Timofey Nastyukhin.  The event featured four championship fights and the actual card was condensed for the televised version on TNT.

The event in Tokyo was the first of ONE’s expansion after it had signed Alvarez, Johnson, Sage Northcutt and Vitor Belfort flexing its new financial muscle to raise its profile, especially in the United States.

Payout Perspective:

It was the first telecast under the Turner television deal and hopefully it gets a better time slot than 11:45pm on the east coast.  This telecast did not do well because it wasn’t live and the replay was on at a poor time slot on a Monday night.  Hopefully, programming will do better to help ONE succeed by not only letting it air on its B/R App but also during good time slots on the network.

The Interview: Miesha Tate, Rich Franklin and Demetrious Johnson

February 25, 2019

I had the chance to attend the first of three ONE Championship media events here in the United States.  This ‘meet and greet’ took place at the Southwest Boys & Girls Club in Seattle, Washington.  Prior to the event I had the opportunity to talk with Demetrious Johnson, Rich Franklin and Miesha Tate.

One point of clarification from the DJ portion of the interview, Johnson states that ONE Championship is seen by 200 million viewers.  The actual number is 20 million as pointed out by ONE Championship PR staff.

Also, I end the interview with Miesha Tate by saying we look forward to ONE Championship in the U.S.  Of course, I mean watching it on B/R App and/or Turner Sports as there is no scheduled ONE Championship events in the U.S.

Johnson takes on Yuya Wakamatsu in the opening round of the ONE Championship Flyweight World Grand Prix tournament on March 31st.  Also on the card, Eddie Alvarez debuts taking on Timofey Natsyukhin.  The event takes place at Ryogoku Kokugikan near Tokyo, Japan.

With ONE Championship announcer Mitch Chilson (and Seattle native) as the emcee, Johnson, Franklin and Tate spoke to the kids at the Boys and Girls club on their background, overcoming obstacles growing up and fielding questions.  They also took pictures with the kids and signed autographs.