ONE Championship to show off busiest schedule in 2017
Chatri set for bigger footprint in Asia, reveals company has made 'major hires'
In five years, Singapore-based ONE Championship has grown from a single event in 2011 to a high of 15 this year.
There have been events in 11 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and China.
This year, the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion reportedly secured an investment worth an eight-figure sum from Heliconia Capital Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek, and is aiming to make an initial public offering within the next three years.
With such a significant backer, ONE will feature its biggest event calendar in 2017, with the organisation promising better events and broadcast productions at each stop.
"We have been primarily focused on South-east Asia and China, but next year the footprint will include Korea, Japan and the rest of Asia," said ONE chairman and founder Chatri Sityodtong, on the sidelines of the Asia MMA Summit at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.
"It's a little too early to announce. We are just formulating our events schedule, but it would be literally the most ever in ONE Championship history."
He revealed that the organisation has done some "major hiring" recently in every department, including "senior hires".
"The production values will keep going up, whether it's broadcast or in the stadium," said the Thai, a self-made multi-millionaire entrepreneur.
"We are already among the best in the world, but my challenge to my team is to be the very best in the world."
The former hedge fund manager said that his organisation is just in its "first inning", and plans to grow alongside the sports industry in Asia over the next few decades.
He pointed out that North America has successful franchises like the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, while Europe shows off the English Premiership and La Liga.
"Before the ONE Championship, we watched EPL, for example, and supported Manchester United," he said.
"But it has nothing to do with you, living in Baguio (in Philippines) or Bangkok, Thailand."
ONE's emphasis on grooming local heroes in its markets is its secret to success.
Referring to the lightweight world championship bout between Japan's Shinya Aoki and Philippines' Eduard Folayang on Nov 11 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Chatri said: "Then we had nothing, but now we have (local) heroes; fans in Japan and the Philippines can watch them live."
Chatri aims to eventually build his MMA empire into a US$20 billion ($27.2b) organisation, with side projects such as movies and games.
He said: "I think the world is going to be shocked in the next five years what ONE Championship is going to do.
"If we hit our plans, ONE Championship is literally going to be the biggest sports property on earth."
A BIG DEAL
Homegrown mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation, Singapore Fighting Championship (SFC), has inked a US$10 million ($13.6m) deal with Indonesia's One Pride to boost the region's MMA scene.
Sealed late last month, the deal will see both organisations working together to organise events and activities in both Singapore and Indonesia promoting fight sports, as well as seminars with international coaches.
SFC president Arvind Lalwani (above) said: "SFC has a vision to be the leading MMA organisation in Singapore and South-east Asia, and this further develops MMA in both Singapore and Indonesia.
One Pride Indonesia chief operating officer David Burke added: "We have had our eyes on SFC since it started three years ago and have always wanted to work with it as we see a good fit with our brand.
"With this partnership, we can look forward to developing the growing fight sports scene in Indonesia further." - LIM SAY HENG