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One Championship
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2024 in ONE Championship
SportCombat sports
Founded14 July 2011; 12 years ago (14 July 2011)
Owner(s)Group One Holdings Pte. Ltd.
CEOChatri Sityodtong (Chairman and CEO)
DirectorSaurabh Mittal (Vice Chairman)
Hua Fung Teh (Group President)
Jesley Chua (CFO)
Rich Franklin (VP)
Matt Hume (SVP of Competition)
Headquarters3 Fraser Street, #14-24 Singapore 189352[1]
Official websiteonefc.com

One Championship (stylized ONE Championship or simply ONE; formerly One Fighting Championship (ONE FC) until January 2015) is a multinational combat sports promotion founded on 14 July 2011 by Chatri Sityodtong and Victor Cui.[2] Originally focused on mixed martial arts (MMA), ONE has since expanded to regularly hold events featuring muaythai, kickboxing, and submission grappling bouts, while also previously promoting boxing and lethwei matches. One held its first event on 3 September 2011 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and has since held over 200 events across Asia.[3]

ONE is considered to be Asia's largest combat sports promotion, with investors including GIC and Temasek Holdings, in addition to ICONIQ Capital, Mission Holdings, Sequoia Capital and Greenoaks Capital.[4][5] The promotion would reach a value of over $1 billion by October 2018.[6][7][8] In 2022, ONE's parent company, One Group Holdings, changed its legal operations from Singapore to the Cayman Islands.[9][10][11]

Sityodtong stated his goal was to create the first Pan-Asian martial arts company, and to promote "values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion", which he believes Western MMA promotions have lost.[6][12][13]

Overview and broadcasters

ONE Championship is operated by Group ONE Holdings, whose leadership and executive team are chairman and chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong, vice chairman Saurabh Mittal, group president Hua Fung Teh, and chief financial officer Jesley Chua.[14] Matches are made by matchmaker and Vice President of Operations, Matt Hume. In May 2014, former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin became a vice president of ONE Championship.[15] The referees include Olivier Coste, Mohamad Sulaiman, Kemp Cheng and Justin Brown for MMA matches and Elias Dolaptsis for Muay Thai and Kickboxing matches. The ring announcer for ONE Championship is Dom Lau. The regular colour commentators for the English-language television broadcasts are Mitch Chilson, Brent Stover,[16] and Rich Franklin,[17] although Josh Thomson, Jason Chambers, Bas Rutten and Renzo Gracie have appeared as guest commentators. Former commentators include Michael Schiavello.[18][19][better source needed]

ONE co-founder Victor Cui was CEO International until leaving the organization in early 2022 to become president and CEO of the Edmonton Elks.[20] Former Strikeforce and UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate was a vice president of ONE from 2018 until 2021, when she returned to active competition as a fighter.[21]

ONE fights have been broadcast by RCTI (2015–2017), GTV (2012, repeat only for 2020–2021), iNews (2015–2017, repeat only for 2020–present), Moji (repeat only for 2022–2023, delayed in 2024-present), Indosiar (delayed in 2013–2014), SCTV (delayed in 2018–2022), Vidio (live in 2018–2022, 2024-present), Netverse (live in 2022–2023), NET. (delayed in 2022–2023) and BTV (repeat only for 2022–present) in Indonesia,[22] MediaCorp Channel 5 (temporarily) in Singapore,[23] ABS-CBN S+A/TV5/One Sports/LIGA Channel in the Philippines,[24] MyTV in Cambodia,[25] Astro Arena, TV9[26] and RTM[27] in Malaysia, Workpoint TV, Thairath TV (2016–2022) and Channel 7 (2023–present) in Thailand, TV Tokyo and AbemaTV in Japan.

On 30 January 2012, they signed a 10-year deal with ESPN Star Sports.[28] ONE made its PPV debut at ONE Fighting Championship: Rise of Kings via iN DEMAND, Avail-TVN, DirecTV and Dish.[29]

Since May 2018, ONE events have been broadcast live and free on both their dedicated apps and YouTube channel in select locations.[30]

On 11 December 2018, ONE announced a three-year broadcast deal with Turner Sports in the United States that will bring live events to streaming service B/R Live and recap shows on TNT.[31][32]

On 23 March 2019 ONE announced it had signed a multi-year deal with Star Sports in India.[33] On 19 September 2019, it was announced that sports streaming service FITE TV would broadcast the promotion's two-part, 100th numbered event, Century.[34]

In November 2020, ONE announced a partnership with Facebook to distribute ONE Championship content on Facebook Watch and IGTV.[35]

On April 27, 2022, ONE announced a five-year distribution deal with Amazon Prime Video, giving Amazon Prime exclusive broadcast rights for at least 12 live events annually during prime time hours in the United States and Canada.[36][37]

On September 29, 2022, ONE announced an exclusive multi-year partnership with beIN Sports to broadcast live ONE Championship events across the Middle East and North Africa for the first time. In addition to events, the partnership is set to include round-up shows, as well as related social media and digital content. beIN Sports will broadcast ONE's events to 24 MENA territories with both English and Arabic commentary.[38]

On December 8, 2022, ONE announced the partnership with Tero Entertainment during the press conference for broadcast One Lumpinee (internationally known as ONE Friday Fights) from Lumpinee Stadium, Bangkok via Thailand's Channel 7 to more than 154 countries every Friday evening starting January 20, 2023. This broadcast has been considered a big turn in the Thai television industry because Channel 7 had to remove the television drama on the prime time time-slot after the evening news, which was considered a regular identity and main income resources of the channel since its establishment in 1967.[39]

On March 16, 2023, ONE partnered with Seven Network, airing both ONE Fight Night (which aired on Prime Video in United States & Canada) and ONE Friday Fights exclusively for 7plus in Australia.[40]

On December 12, 2023, ONE partnered with Sky Sports to become exclusive home for both ONE Fight Night and ONE Friday Fights in the UK and Ireland.[41]

History

Founding and early history: 2011–2014

Chatri Sityodtong, founder, chairman, and CEO of One Championship

Entrepreneur and martial artist Chatri Sityodtong stated his reasons for founding One Fighting Championship in July 2011 was that he believed that martial arts was Asia's "cultural treasure", yet there was no Pan-Asian promotion to unite the continent.[12][42] "My vision is to make ONE Asia's first multi-billion-dollar sports media property. Every other region has them[...] But there is absolutely nothing like that on a pan-Asian basis."[12] He chose Singapore as the promotion's base because of its location and communications infrastructure.[12] As a life-long martial artist himself, Sityodtong would later state that he felt mixed martial arts (MMA) has been "severely tainted by the west", where the physical aspects have been glorified to extremes and "anger, hatred, [and] controversy" are commonplace.[43] Unlike western promotions, ONE's main goal is to promote "values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion".[43][13] Sityodtong says ONE purposely recruits and employs competitors who "are outstanding role models and good human beings with wholesome values", "You don't see any of the trash-talking or any kind of criminal offences or behavior you see in other promotions".[13] Although acknowledging he has respect for those Western promotions, Sityodtong explained, "they approach it in a pure sports manner, whereas as we approach it in Asia as a martial arts approach, just in terms of positioning to the audience and everything else. That's very important".[44]

Sityodtong revealed that the first three years of ONE FC were a "living hell". He was turned down by many broadcasters, brands, advertisers, and even potential employees who he believed did not understand ONE's "vision".[42] He stated that partners "mistakenly thought it was about fighting and violence", and claimed that "people don't watch because of the punch or the kick or the submission. People watch because their heroes are representing their country on the global stage of martial arts."[42][44]

First events

One Fighting Championship held their first event, ONE FC: Champion vs. Champion, on 3 September 2011 at the sold-out Singapore Indoor Stadium.[45] On 31 March 2012, the promotion held its first female MMA fight during ONE FC: War of the Lions at the same stadium. It saw Nicole Chua, Singapore's first female professional MMA fighter, submit seven time Indian kickboxing champion Jeet Toshi.[46]

On 6 October 2012, ONE crowned its first two champions at ONE FC: Rise of Kings; Soo Chul Kim became the inaugural ONE Bantamweight World Champion by stopping Leandro Issa, and Kotetsu Boku defeated Zorobabel Moreira by TKO to become the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Champion.[47] The inaugural ONE Featherweight World Championship followed on 3 February 2013 at ONE FC: Return of Warriors, where Honorio Banario defeated Eric Kelly.[48]

After having to be rescheduled from 2013, the inaugural ONE Welterweight World Championship bout took place at ONE FC: War of Nations on 14 March 2014. It saw Nobutatsu Suzuki defeat Brock Larson.[49] At ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom on 12 September 2014, Adriano Moraes became the first ONE Flyweight World Champion after submitting Geje Eustaquio.[50] The ONE Middleweight World Championship was introduced at ONE FC: Battle of the Lions on 7 November 2014, where Igor Svirid defeated Leandro Ataides in 17 seconds for the title.[51]

Name change and expansion: 2015–2019

On 13 January 2015, the promotion announced it would be changing its name to simply "One Championship".[52] According to then-CEO Victor Cui, the change was made mostly for linguistic and cultural reasons. "I think the reason why I picked the name ONE in the first place was because I wanted a name that transcended the language barrier. If you didn't speak English, you knew what 'one' was[...] It means the top, the best and everybody could say it", but translating the English word "fighting" into dozens of Asian languages and passing it on to partners and sponsors had proven cumbersome.[53]

ONE Championship and Ultimate Fighting Championship finalized the first "trade" in MMA history on 27 October 2018. ONE Welterweight Champion Ben Askren was released from his contract so he could sign with the UFC and former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson was released from his contract so he could sign with ONE.[54] With distribution of its content to over 150 countries, ONE Championship had begun to be seen as a "unicorn", an unlisted company with a value over $1 billion, by 2018.[55]

Continued expansion of fights

Brandon Vera, Hua Fung Teh, and Mauro Cerilli at a ONE: Conquest of Champions press conference, 2018

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke became the first ONE Strawweight World Champion after beating Roy Doliguez on 22 May 2015 at ONE: Warrior's Quest.[56] ONE held the first Lethwei fight in its history at ONE: Kingdom of Warriors on 18 July 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar.[57][58][59] The fight showcased Burmese fighters Phyan Thway and Soe Htet Oo in a dark match and the result was a draw according to traditional Lethwei rules.[60] At ONE: Spirit of Champions on 11 December 2015, Brandon Vera knocked out Paul Cheng in the first round to become the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Champion.[61]

The promotion crowned two more inaugural champions at ONE: Ascent to Power on 6 May 2016. Roger Gracie submitted Michal Pasternak for the inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.[62] The inaugural ONE Women's Atomweight World Championship title match saw 19-year-old Angela Lee defeat Mei Yamaguchi to become the first female champion in ONE and one of the youngest ever titleholders in combat sports.[63] On 13 August 2016, ONE Championship held its first grappling tournament in Cotai, Macau; One Grappling Challenge Macao took place before ONE: Heroes of the World. Following International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation no-gi rules, Angela Lee, Shinya Aoki, and Michelle Nicolini were among the participants.[64]

A "grappling super fight" with submission-only rules was held between Shinya Aoki and Garry Tonon at ONE: Dynasty of Heroes on 26 May 2017.[65] ONE began talks of a partnership with World Lethwei Championship to share athletes to fight in each other's organization.[66] On 30 June 2017, ONE held its second Lethwei match at ONE: Light of a Nation. Thway Thit Win Hlaing defeated Soe Htet Oo by decision according to the WLC point system, where a winner must be chosen by judges decision if the fight goes the distance.[60] Since then, ONE has not held any more Lethwei fights, but Sityodtong has expressed his love for the art and wanting to recruit Dave Leduc into the organization.[67] On 10 November 2017, ONE Featherweight World Champion Martin Nguyen became the promotion's first simultaneous two-division champion when he knocked out Eduard Folayang for the ONE Lightweight World Championship at ONE: Legends of the World.[68][69]

Xiong Jing Nan defeated Tiffany Teo at ONE: Kings of Courage on 20 January 2018 to win the inaugural ONE Women's Strawweight World Championship.[70] The event also saw another submission-only "grappling super fight", this time between Shinya Aoki and Marat Gafurov.[71] ONE crowned its first champion in Muay Thai at ONE: Unstoppable Dreams on 18 May 2018, when Sam-A Gaiyanghadao stopped Sergio Wielzen for the inaugural ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship.[72] This was followed by ONE's first kickboxing champion at ONE: Battle for the Heavens on 7 July 2018, when the inaugural ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Championship bout saw Kai Ting Chuang defeat Yodcherry Sityodtong.[73] On 6 October 2018, ONE: Kingdom of Heroes was headlined by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defending his World Boxing Council championship against Iran Diaz.[74] This is the only boxing match under the ONE Championship banner to date.

Aung La Nsang became ONE's second simultaneous two-division champion in 2018.[75]

February 2019 saw the inaugural ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Championship and ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Championship matches. The former took place on 16 February 2019 at ONE: Clash of Legends, where Nong-O Gaiyanghadao defeated Han Zihao.[76] The latter took place at ONE: Call to Greatness on 22 February 2019, where ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Stamp Fairtex defeated Janet Todd to become the promotion's first two-sport champion.[77]

2019 also saw the introduction of multiple ONE championship titles in kickboxing. The inaugural ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship match took place at ONE: Warriors of Light on 10 May 2019, where Petchdam Petchyindee Academy defeated Elias Mahmoudi.[78] The first ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Championship match took place at ONE: Enter the Dragon 17 May 2019, and saw Regian Eersel defeat Nieky Holzken.[79] Roman Kryklia defeated Tarik Khbabez at ONE: Age of Dragons on 16 November 2019 to become the inaugural ONE Light Heavyweight Kickboxing World Champion.[80] The inaugural ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship and ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Championship matches both took place at ONE: Mark of Greatness on 6 December 2019. The bantamweight bout saw Alaverdi Ramazanov defeat Zhang Chenglong by unanimous decision to earn the title, and Sam-A Gaiyanghadao followed suit, winning the strawweight championship by defeating Wang Junguang by unanimous decision.[81]

Further international expansion: 2020–present

In December 2021, ONE raised an additional $150 million through an investing round led by Guggenheim Investments and the Qatar Investment Authority, increasing the company’s valuation to $1.35 billion. In October 2022, One Group Holdings changed its legal domicile from Singapore to the Cayman Islands.[9][10] On 22 June 2023, it was announced that ONE would be bringing live events to Qatar later in the year, having signed an MoU with Media City Qatar.[82]

Notable fights

Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy won the inaugural ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Championship over Pongsiri P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym at ONE: Warrior's Code on 7 February 2020.[83] ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao became a two-sport champion on 28 February 2020 at ONE: King of the Jungle, where he beat Rocky Ogden for the inaugural ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Championship.[84]

In May 2021, ONE Championship announced that Gordon Ryan was due to debut in the promotion in a grappling match with Shinya Aoki to be held in August of that year.[85] However, the match never materialized due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Ryan's health issues.[86] Superbon Singha Mawynn became the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Champion by knocking out Giorgio Petrosyan at ONE: First Strike on 15 October 2021.[87]

Stamp Fairtex became ONE's first three-sport champion in 2023.[88]

At ONE: X, an event to celebrate the organization's tenth anniversary, Mei Yamaguchi faced Danielle Kelly and Reinier de Ridder faced André Galvão in a pair of grappling matches on 26 March 2022.[89][90] 17-year-old Smilla Sundell became the youngest champion in ONE history on 22 April 2022, when she defeated Jackie Buntan at ONE 156 for the inaugural ONE Women's Strawweight Muay Thai World Championship.[91]

ONE awarded their first belt for submission grappling on 1 October 2022 at ONE on Prime Video 2, where Mikey Musumeci defeated Cleber Souza for the ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Championship.[92] ONE Lightweight Kickboxing World Champion Regian Eersel became a two-sport champion when he defeated Sinsamut Klinmee for the inaugural ONE Lightweight Muay Thai World Championship at ONE on Prime Video 3 on 22 October 2022.[93] The same event saw Kade Ruotolo win the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship over Uali Kurzhev.[94]

ONE held its first event in America, ONE Fight Night 10, at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado on 5 May 2023. Colorado was chosen because its athletic commission was the first to approve ONE's rule set.[95] The organization had initially planned on debuting in the US years prior, but was ultimately delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[96] The event was the start of the promotion's planned expansion into the United States, where CEO Chatri Sityodtong it will be opening offices in New York and Los Angeles with the goal of eventually holding 12 events in the country annually.[95]

Anti-doping policy

In August 2022, ONE Championship announced an anti-doping partnership with International Doping Tests & Management, a subsidiary of Drug Free Sport International, who will independently handle all testing of its fighters for "illegal substances", beginning with ONE 160 that month. Although the organization planned to introduce World Anti-Doping Agency standard testing in 2019, prior to its partnership with International Doping Tests & Management, ONE had not publicly drug-tested its athletes.[97]

Rules

Mixed martial arts

ONE Championship uses the Global Martial Arts Rule Set, which "blends a combination of Best Practices from Asian and Non-Asian Rules".[98] Fighters wear 4-ounce MMA gloves. Matches vary in maximum length, depending on whether it is for a championship title. In all fights, each round can be no longer than five minutes. Most fights have a maximum of three rounds, with one minute breaks in between, but championship matches have a max of five rounds.

Victory is attained by one of the following ways; knockout, submission, verbal tapout, technical knockout or technical submission by referee stoppage, request for stoppage by cornerman, by disqualification, by technical decision, or by judges' decision.[98] Three judges score the bout in its entirety, not round-by-round, utilizing the following criteria in descending order of importance:[98]

Illegal targets for strikes are the groin, throat, trachea, and the back of the head, neck or spine. Stomps to the head of a grounded opponent, small joint manipulation, head butting, hair pulling, eye gouging, orifice insertion, spitting, and grabbing onto the cage fence are also illegal. Takedowns must not result in "spiking or pile driver[s] to the head or neck".[99] Soccer kicks to the head of a grounded opponent were previously legal in the competition, initially via an "open attack" rule, which required fighters to get permission from the referee to use them.[100] In September 2012, the company adopted the Pride Fighting Championships' rules on the technique, allowing fighters to use soccer kicks without asking for permission from the referee.[100] Soccer kicks were banned entirely in August 2016 as part of the company's worldwide expansion plans. Sityodtong stated that despite studies showing that soccer kicks are the same as a normal head kick to a standing opponent because you cannot generate any more pivotal force, the technique invites "bad publicity".[101]

Kickboxing and Muay Thai

ONE Championship uses the Global Kickboxing Rule Set and the Global Muay Thai Rule Set.[98] In kickboxing, fighters wear boxing gloves, with athletes weighing at or below 65.8 kilograms (bantamweight) wearing 8-oz gloves and athletes weighing above wearing 10-oz gloves. In Muay Thai, fighters wear 4-ounce mixed martial arts gloves. Matches vary in maximum length, depending on whether it is for a championship title. In all fights, each round can be no longer than five minutes. Most fights have a maximum of three rounds, with one minute breaks in between, but championship matches have a max of five rounds. ONE Muay Thai allows elbow strikes, clinch fighting, sweeps and throws.[102][103]

Fights can be won via:

Fights are scored round-by-round by three judges using the 10-point must system. If the points tally is equal, then the judges utilize the "ONE Judging Criteria" to determine a winner:[98]

Submission grappling

ONE utilizes the Global Submission Grappling Rule Set.[98] Matches consist of a single 10 minute round. Victory can be obtained by submission, verbal tapout, referee stoppage "due to imminent danger", request for stoppage by cornerman, or by judges' decision.[98] Three judges score the bout by the number of catches, or "legitimate" submission attempts. If there are an equal number of catches, the grappler who was awarded the last catch will be named the winner. If there are no catches, the judges will award victory to the athlete who showed more aggression.[98] Yellow cards are issued to grapplers who stall. Once an athlete is issued a yellow card, the only way that athlete can win is by submission.[98] Prior to May 20, 2022, submission grappling matches could only be won via submission and were automatically declared a draw after a 12 minute time limit.[104][105]

Weight divisions

ONE Championship currently uses ten different weight classes:[106]

Weight class name Upper limit Gender
in pounds (lb) in kilograms (kg) in stone (st)
Atomweight 115 52.2 8.2 Female
Strawweight 125 56.7 8.9 Male / Female
Flyweight 135 61.2 9.6 Male / Female
Bantamweight 145 65.8 10.4 Male / Female
Featherweight 155 70.3 11.1 Male
Lightweight 170 77.1 12.1 Male
Welterweight 185 83.9 13.2 Male
Middleweight 205 93 14.6 Male
Light Heavyweight 225 102.1 16.1 Male
Heavyweight 265[a] 120.2 18.9 Male

ONE weigh-ins include a hydration test.

The change took place after the death of 21-year-old Chinese fighter, Yang Jian Bing (who was supposed to face Geje Eustaquio) on 11 December 2015, due to dehydration by weight-cutting in the Philippines.[107]

The promotion banned weight-cutting by dehydration in order to promote fighter safety.[108] The promotion’s revised policy on weight mandated that athletes are monitored in their training camps, and have urine specific gravity tests to ensure they are hydrated up to three hours ahead of their bouts.

The new system was well received by athletes in the organization,[109][110] as well as other stakeholders in the MMA industry.[111][112]

On February 18, 2023, Dr. Oliver Barley revealed that the urine specific gravity tests were ineffective. Barley described the tests as being “ridiculously easy” to cheat and also admitted to having helped some ONE Championship athletes pass their hydration tests with weight cuts.[113]

Events

Main article: List of ONE Championship events

List of ONE Championship seasons by year
2011 in ONE Championship
2012 in ONE Championship
2013 in ONE Championship
2014 in ONE Championship
2015 in ONE Championship
2016 in ONE Championship
2017 in ONE Championship
2018 in ONE Championship
2019 in ONE Championship
2020 in ONE Championship
2021 in ONE Championship
2022 in ONE Championship
2023 in ONE Championship

ONE Warrior Series

In November 2017, it was announced that ONE VP Rich Franklin would head up a competition called the ONE Warrior Series, searching for up-and-coming martial artists in Asia. The prize is a six-figure contract with the organization, with the winner determined based on their performance instead of victories.[114] The most recent edition of the ONE Warrior series in its initial format was ONE Warrior Series 10, which aired on February 19, 2020.

ONE Warrior Series: Philippines

On September 12, 2022, ONE Warrior Series made a brief return as a reality television show titled ONE Warrior Series: Philippines. The show featured 16 mixed martial arts fighters in the Philippines competing for a $100,000 contract to compete in ONE Championship. Team Lakay members Joshua Pacio and Geje Eustaquio were featured on the show as coaches. The show premiered on September 18, 2022 and featured 12 episodes.[115][116]

ONE Super Series

On February 12, 2018, ONE Championship announced the establishment of the ONE Super Series, which would feature kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts.[117] The first event that featured bouts under Muay Thai and kickboxing rules was ONE: Heroes of Honor in Manila on 20 April 2018.[118] The promotion signed notable names such as Giorgio Petrosyan, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Fabio Pinca to feature on the bill. Since the inception of ONE Super Series, some events have used a five-roped ring, instead of the ONE circular cage, which had been used exclusively up until 2018. The ONE Super Series kickboxing bouts adopt the oriental ruleset.[119] As of 2020, ONE Super Series kickboxing bouts use boxing gloves. In ONE Super Series Muay Thai bouts, open-finger 4 oz gloves are used.[120] The first ONE event to consist entirely of ONE Super Series contests was ONE Championship: Immortal Triumph in Ho Chi Minh City on 6 September 2019.[121]

ONE Infinity

On 13 February 2020, ONE announced the launch of the "Infinity" series, events consisting of at least three championship fights and a minimum of 12 world champions.[122]

ONE Lumpinee

In September 2022, ONE announced a partnership with the Royal Thai Army to hold at least 52 shows in 2023 at the Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. The weekly events started with ONE Friday Fights 1 on 20 January 2023, where Nong-O Gaiyanghadao successfully defended his bantamweight Muay Thai title with a TKO of Alaverdi Ramazanov in the third round. The event finished as the most-watched show in prime time in Thailand, with a 3.9 rating among males 15 years old and over, according to data collected by Nielsen. It was broadcast locally on Thailand's Channel 7.[123] The event predominately features Muay Thai, but also includes MMA and kickboxing bouts. They are broadcast live in 154 countries, and reportedly offer the highest purses in Muay Thai history.[124][125]

Roster

Main articles: List of current ONE fighters and List of ONE Championship alumni

In May 2022, Sityodtong stated ONE Championship had 600 fighters in the organization.[126]

Fighter salary

Fighter salaries in Asia are not publicly disclosed so information about ONE FC's fighter purses is not in the public domain. However, in January 2014 Ben Askren revealed that he was being paid a minimum of US$50,000 per fight as well as a US$50,000 win bonus.[127] This was also the same amount Adriano Moraes made in his first fight against Demetrious Johnson. Following a legal dispute with his management team, Moraes signed a new contract that saw him making US$100,000 to show and US$100,000 to win, as well as a US$250,000 flat fee as champion and a US$10,000 monthly salary over two years.[128]

Some fighter purses have been reportedly low as US$1,300 with a win bonus US$1,300, which was the amount received by Kyrgyzstani MMA fighter Anelya Toktogonov in her fight on ONE Friday Fights.[129]

A cash bonus known as the "ONE Warrior bonus" was introduced on 9 July 2014 and implemented for the first time at ONE Fighting Championship: War of Dragons on 11 July 2014.

An award of US$50,000 is given out at the end of certain events to the fighter who impresses the most in terms of:

Victor Cui stated that bonuses would be handed out on a discretionary basis: "For every event, the bar will be very, very high. If a few fighters impress me, then I will hand out the bonus to a few fighters. If no one impresses me, then no one will get it. Extraordinary performance deserves extraordinary rewards. Ordinary performances deserve ordinary rewards."[130]

The "ONE Warrior bonus" of $50,000 was re-introduced in January 2022, with a minimum of one bonus and a maximum of five bonuses awarded at each event.[131]

Rankings

Main article: ONE Championship Rankings

The rankings for ONE Championship's fighters are both recorded and updated when information has been obtained from the promotion's official website.[132]

Current champions

Main article: List of ONE Championship champions

Men
Division Champion Since Ref. Defenses
Mixed martial arts
Heavyweight
265 lb (120.2 kg)
Russia Anatoly Malykhin June 23, 2023 [133] 0
Light Heavyweight
225 lb (102.1 kg)
December 3, 2022 [134] 0
Middleweight
205 lb (93.0 kg)
March 1, 2024 [135] 0
Welterweight
185 lb (83.9 kg)
United States Christian Lee November 19, 2022 [136] 0
Lightweight
170 lb (77.1 kg)
August 26, 2022 [137] 0
Featherweight
155 lb (70.3 kg)
China Tang Kai August 26, 2022 [138] 1
Bantamweight
145 lb (65.8 kg)
Brazil Fabrício Andrade February 25, 2023 [139] 0
Flyweight
135 lb (61.2 kg)
United States Demetrious Johnson August 27, 2022 [140] 1
Strawweight
125 lb (56.7 kg)
Philippines Joshua Pacio March 1, 2024 [141] 0
Kickboxing
Light Heavyweight
225 lb (102.1 kg)
Ukraine Roman Kryklia November 16, 2019 [142] 2
Lightweight
170 lb (77.1 kg)
France Alexis Nicolas April 6, 2024 - 0
Featherweight
155 lb (70.3 kg)
Azerbaijan Chingiz Allazov January 14, 2023 [143] 1
Bantamweight
145 lb (65.8 kg)
England Jonathan Haggerty November 4, 2023 [144] 0
Flyweight
135 lb (61.2 kg)
Thailand Superlek Kiatmookao January 14, 2023 [145] 2
Strawweight
125 lb (56.7 kg)
Thailand Prajanchai P.K.Saenchai June 28,2024 0
Muay Thai
Heavyweight
265 lb (120.2 kg)
Ukraine Roman Kryklia December 8, 2023 [146] 0
Lightweight
170 lb (77.1 kg)
Suriname Regian Eersel October 22, 2022 [147] 2
Featherweight
155 lb (70.3 kg)
Thailand Tawanchai P.K.Saenchai September 29, 2022 [148] 3
Bantamweight
145 lb (65.8 kg)
England Jonathan Haggerty April 22, 2023 [149] 1
Flyweight
135 lb (61.2 kg)
Thailand Rodtang Jitmuangnon August 2, 2019 [150] 5
Strawweight
125 lb (56.7 kg)
Thailand Prajanchai P.K.Saenchai December 22, 2023 0
Submission grappling
Welterweight
185 lb (83.9 kg)
United States Tye Ruotolo November 4, 2023 [151] 1
Lightweight
170 lb (77.1 kg)
United States Kade Ruotolo October 22, 2022 [152] 3
Flyweight
135 lb (61.2 kg)
United States Mikey Musumeci October 1, 2022 [153] 3
Women
Division Champion Since Ref. Defenses
Mixed martial arts
Strawweight
125 lb (56.7 kg)
China Xiong Jing Nan January 20, 2018 7
Atomweight
115 lb (52.2 kg)
Thailand Stamp Fairtex September 30, 2023 [154] 0
Kickboxing
Atomweight
115 lb (52.2 kg)
Thailand Phetjeeja Lukjaoporongtom March 9, 2024 0
Muay Thai
Strawweight
125 lb (56.7 kg)
Vacant
Atomweight
115 lb (52.2 kg)
Brazil Allycia Rodrigues August 28, 2020 [155] 2
Submission grappling
Atomweight
115 lb (52.2 kg)
United States Danielle Kelly September 30, 2023 [156] 0


Tournament winners

ONE Grand Prix Champions

Division Champion Since
Bantamweight Japan Masakatsu Ueda 31 May 2013 (ONE FC: Rise to Power)
Flyweight United States Demetrious Johnson 13 October 2019 (ONE: Century − Part 1)
Lightweight United States Christian Lee 13 October 2019 (ONE: Century − Part 1)
Featherweight
(Kickboxing)
Italy Giorgio Petrosyan 13 October 2019 (ONE: Century − Part 2)
Azerbaijan Chingiz Allazov 26 March 2022 (ONE: X)
Bantamweight
(Muay Thai)
Thailand Rodlek P.K.Saenchai 28 August 2020 (ONE: A New Breed)
Atomweight Thailand Stamp Fairtex 3 December 2021 (ONE: Winter Warriors)
Heavyweight
(Kickboxing)
Ukraine Roman Kryklia 19 November 2022 (ONE 163)

Malaysia GP Champions

Division Champion Since
Featherweight Malaysia A.J. Lias Mansor 15 November 2013 (ONE FC: Warrior Spirit)

Cambodia GP Champions

Division Champion Since
Featherweight Cambodia Samang Dun 12 September 2014 (ONE FC: Rise of the Kingdom)

China GP Champions

Division Champion Since
Featherweight (Beijing) China Li Kai Wen 19 December 2014 (ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions (Beijing))
Flyweight (Beijing) China Wei Bin Li 19 December 2014 (ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions (Beijing))
Featherweight (Guangzhou) China Huang Di Yuan 20 June 2015 (ONE: Dynasty of Champions (Guangzhou))
Flyweight (Guangzhou) China Wu Ze 20 June 2015 (ONE: Dynasty of Champions (Guangzhou))
Featherweight (Beijing) China Yang Sen 21 November 2015 (ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions (Beijing II))
Bantamweight (Changsha) China Ma Hao Bin 23 January 2016 (ONE: Dynasty of Champions (Changsha))
Flyweight (Hefei) China Huo You Xia Bu 2 July 2016 (ONE: Dynasty of Champions (Anhui))

Myanmar GP Champions

Division Champion Since
Featherweight Myanmar Tha Pyay Nyo 18 July 2015 (ONE: Kingdom of Warriors)
Lightweight Myanmar Thway Thit Aung 18 July 2015 (ONE: Kingdom of Warriors)
Featherweight Myanmar Phoe Thaw 7 October 2016 (ONE: State of Warriors)

ONE Championship records

Record Fighter Number
Youngest fighter in ONE debut Thailand Supergirl Jaroonsak 16 years, 9 months
Oldest fighter in ONE debut Brazil Renzo Gracie 51 years, 4 months
Youngest champion Sweden Smilla Sundell 17 years, 5 months
Youngest title challenger China Zhang Peimian 19 years, 0 months
Oldest champion Mongolia Jadamba Narantungalag 38 years, 10 months
Oldest title challenger 43 years, 3 months
Longest championship reign United States Angela Lee 2703 days
Shortest championship reign Japan Shinya Aoki 47 days
Most championship reigns Russia Anatoly Malykhin 4
Most fights Philippines Eduard Folayang 23
Most wins United States Christian Lee 17
Most finishes 16
Most knockouts 12
Most submissions Japan Shinya Aoki 10
Most decision Wins Thailand Rodtang Jitmuangnon 11
Most title fight wins Brazil Bibiano Fernandes 11
Most title fights 13
Most cumulative title defenses 8
Most consecutive title defenses Brazil Bibiano Fernandes,
China Xiong Jing Nan and
Thailand Nong-O Gaiyanghadao
7
Longest winning streak Thailand Rodtang Jitmuangnon 14
Total Fight Time China Xiong Jing Nan 3 hours, 13 minutes, 48 seconds.
Fastest knockout Russia Timofey Nastyukhin and
Thailand Capitan Petchyindee
0:06
Fastest submission Turkey Dagi Arslanaliev 0:26
Fastest title fight knockout United States Brandon Vera 0:26
Latest title fight knockout Sweden Zebaztian Kadestam 24:32
Fastest title fight submission Russia Marat Gafurov 0:41

Cross-promotional partnerships

In 2017, ONE entered into a partnership with World Lethwei Championship parties agreed on sending athletes to fight in each other's organization.[66]

In January 2019, ONE entered into a partnership with Shooto, according to which Shooto champions would be given a contract with ONE Championship.[157]

They entered into a similar partnership with Indonesian promotion One Pride MMA in December 2020.[158]

On February 18, 2021, ONE partnered with American promotion Ringside United Fighting (RUF Nation). The partnership saw RUF hosting a Road to ONE 16-man heavyweight MMA tournament, with the winner getting a $100,000 contract to compete in ONE Championship.[159][160]

On May 6, 2022, ONE partnered with Thailand-based Fairtex Fight Promotion. Fairtex Fight Promotion would begin hosting a series of Road to ONE Muay Thai tournaments for three different weight classes in July, offering a $100,000 contract to compete in ONE Championship.[161]

On May 27, 2022, ONE announced a partnership with UK-based Muay Thai Grand Prix. The partnership would see MTGP hosting Road to ONE tournaments in two different weight classes, with the winners receiving a ONE Championship contract worth $100,000.[162]

On November 19, 2023, ONE partnered with the UK-based Muay Thai promotion Hitman Fight League. The partnership will see Hitman Fight League host two Road to ONE four-man tournaments, with the winners receiving a £5,000 cash prize and the opportunity to compete on ONE Friday Fights at Lumpinee Stadium.[163]

Financials

Per the company's 2021 publicly available financial statements, the company has generated an accumulated net loss of US$383 millions. The company's dire financial performance and rumored potential bankruptcy have been widely reported by the MMA journal, Bloody Elbow.[164] When confronted with questions related to the poor financial performance and non-standard financial reporting, Chatri Sityodtong has repeatedly avoided directly answering reporters on the matter.[165] There is also an ongoing question regarding what portion of the company's reported revenue is actually from non-cash barter transactions,due to an unexplained US$400,000,000 barter transaction with a subsidiary for "intellectual property rights".[166]

Financial scrutiny of ONE Championship has increased since 2018, particularly regarding its accounting practices. The organization's barter transactions, previously a distinct category, have been integrated into broadcasting and sponsorship revenue. This change has made it more difficult to discern the proportion of revenue derived from cash versus non-cash transactions, potentially obscuring the organization's financial health.

According to Kristie Neo from DealStreetAsia, financial projections indicated that ONE Championship's financial resources could be depleted by the third quarter of 2024. The organization reportedly generated revenue between $5-8 million in 2022, a modest figure for a promotion of its size. ONE Championship also faced organizational challenges, implementing two rounds of layoffs between March and July 2023, affecting 12 to 15 staff members each time.[167]

In 2021, ONE secured significant funding, raising $150 million through investments from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Guggenheim Investments. Despite this influx of capital, reports as of November 2023 suggest that these funds are nearly exhausted. Furthermore, investment enthusiasm in Qatar has waned, with key local partners Qatar Airways and Ooredoo discontinuing their financial backing. This withdrawal of support has led to the postponement of a planned ONE event in Qatar, which later took place 2024.[168][169]

Controversies and allegations of favoritism

On December 9, 2020, and January 6, 2021, Bloody Elbow published a two-part article detailing numerous allegations surrounding ONE Championship, mainly mistreatment of former fighters and employees.[170]

Former employees and fighters reportedly fear expressing discontent with ONE Championship due to potential legal actions. The company's base in Singapore, known for expensive legal proceedings, exacerbates these concerns. An insider claimed that fighters under contract have low morale but are contractually unable to publicly criticize the company. ONE has allegedly threatened legal action over critical social media posts, including preemptive statements to news outlets and informing other employers of the fighters' actions. Fighters face restrictive contracts that enforce exclusivity without guaranteeing regular fights, leaving them financially vulnerable. Additionally, the contracts reportedly include clauses prohibiting public criticism of ONE. Insiders described pressure on fighters to sign contract extensions with minimal benefits. Herbert Burns reported being sidelined for years and denied a title shot after leaving Evolve MMA, a gym founded by the promotion's CEO, Chatri Sityodtong.

"For sure, that’s exactly it, but life goes on,” Burns said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I spoke with the Evolve founder [Chatri Sityodtong] when I left (the team) and — apparently — everything was fine. I was going to fight for the belt, he congratulated me for the win. I came back home and kept training. For two years, they kept saying ‘you’ll fight at this month or that month,’ but the contract never came. I was always hopeful that I would fight, and that’s what bled me financially and forced me to fight for the money.”[171]

There has also been skepticism regarding ONE's ticket sales, with reports of excessive distribution of free tickets and inflated claims of sold-out events. Financial records suggest a decline in ticket revenue despite an increase in the number of events. ONE has made bold claims about its market share and viewership in Asia, previously asserting a 90%+ market share and describing itself as the largest global sports media property in Asian history. However, these claims have been questioned by industry insiders and former PR head Loren Mack.

ONE's claims of reaching up to 85 million viewers per event and being available in over a billion households in Asia have been met with skepticism. The actual impact of their broadcast reach and brand recognition in Asia remains uncertain.[170]

Allegations have surfaced about ONE Championship favoring fighters from certain countries where the organization seeks expansion. Fighters from countries like Egypt and India are reportedly brought in with little experience, often losing to more accomplished fighters favored by ONE. For instance, Egyptian Top Team fighters have a combined record of 1 win and 22 losses in ONE, raising questions about matchmaking fairness. Fighters outside Asia reportedly face difficulties in negotiating pay and are often locked into lengthy contracts with restrictive clauses. In contrast, select fighters favored by management are said to receive monthly stipends in addition to fight purses.[172]

ONE's relationship with Evolve MMA, both founded by Chatri Sityodtong, is criticized for potential favoritism and conflicts of interest. Herbert Burns, formerly with ONE and Evolve, highlighted issues with media control and biased matchmaking in favor of Evolve fighters. Claims suggest that Evolve’s business model and marketing strategies, including targeting high-earning professionals, raise further concerns about the intertwined nature of Evolve and ONE.[172]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Unlimited in kickboxing

References

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