ONE Championship and UFC are both battling for the top promoters of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) not only in Asia but globally. The Drum spoke to Chatri Sityodtong founder of ONE Championship about his plans to market MMA globally.
Do you think MMA's audience is growing in the APAC? if yes then why?
Absolutely. The growth of mixed martial arts in Asia is unprecedented. It’s really something we take tremendous pride in. When you think about it, Asia has been the home of martial arts for the past 5,000 years. In every country, there is a unique martial art that was developed there locally. There’s Muay Thai in Thailand, Silat and Eskrima in the Philippines, Wushu in China and so on. It’s amazing to see the growth of the sport now that we have made martial arts relatable on the human level by producing our homegrown martial arts heroes.
How do you plan to market MMA globally?
MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world today. It is exciting, compelling and easily relatable. Plus, it’s accessible to pretty much anyone as a sport of choice. That’s why you see so many new martial arts gyms popping up everywhere. It’s a massive, global industry. In all honesty, it takes very little effort to market MMA globally because it’s just so popular these days.
Tell us about any later partnerships and investments you have got in from sponsors to boost One Championship
Well we have recently partnered with GoDaddy. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting partnerships. Just recently, Nielsen and Repucom released outstanding social media and television numbers highlighting the phenomenal growth of ONE Championship over the past few years. With the continued rise of the promotion, ONE is poised to continue to deliver fans world-class content in collaboration with our incredible sponsors.
ONE has inked various sponsorship deals with the largest blue chip sponsors in the world including Disney, Marvel, LG, Kawasaki, Panasonic, Haier, NagaWorld, Universal Music Group and Tune Talk, to name a few. This is a list we will continue to add to in the foreseeable future.
Tell us about the struggles you had to face in your early career
My family lost everything in the Asian financial crisis that affected Bangkok severely, to the point that eventually my family went bankrupt and my father abandoned us. It was up to me to dig my family out of the trenches and when I went to Harvard, surviving on basically $4 a day, I knew I had to do something. My passion for martial arts helped me get through those difficult times and without martial arts, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now I am very fortunate to be doing what I love for a living.