ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes was unhappy with the company after another title defense Saturday.
Now, the company’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong admits that he “screwed up.”
This past weekend, Fernandes successfully defended his belt against current featherweight and lightweight titleholder Martin Nguyen at a ONE Championship event in Bangkok, Thailand. After the fight, “The Flash” told MMA Fighting he felt that officials wanted Nguyen to win the fight and become a three-division champion.
Less than 24 hours after the story was published, Sityodtong released a statement on his Facebook page stating that he re-watched the fight and scored it in Fernandes’ favor. He then apologized to the company’s longest-reigning champion.
Read Sityodtong’s complete statement below.
Today, I rewatched the exciting world title fight between Martin Nguyen and Bibiano Fernandes twice with a few of my teammates at ONE Championship. (Yes, I watch fights every day as a part of my job!) :) In the stadium on fight night, I had Martin winning the fight. However, on the broadcast in the office today, I had Bibi winning the fight. In the end, after careful analysis and replays, I believe that the judges called the fight correctly. Martin took the early rounds, but Bibi really poured it on in the later rounds, tipping the entire fight in his favor. ONE’s scoring system is based on the entire fight (and not round-by-round like our Western counterparts).
On a personal note, it was very hard for me to watch the fight in the stadium. I genuinely admire both Bibi and Martin as human beings and martial artists. For me, they rank among the best martial artists in the world. On top of that, they are exemplary role models with hearts of gold. I count them as my friends.
Lastly, I would like to make a public apology to Bibi for forgetting to congratulate him on his victory in person. (Unfortunately, I also forgot to thank and congratulate several other athletes that night). The short answer is that I was pulled in multiple directions that night, and it completely slipped my mind. That being said, it is unacceptable behavior for me as CEO to forget to congratulate my athletes. It will be the last time that I make this mistake. Our athletes pour their hearts and souls for the world to witness their greatness. And I should be there to celebrate with them.
Bibi, please accept my sincere apologies. I screwed up.