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Chatri Sityodtong: ONE Championship would only co-promote with UFC, other brands just not big enough

Don’t expect ONE Championship to co-promote with any other MMA organizations in the near future.

That’s according to ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong, who responded to a question about the Singapore-based company possibly teaming up with another promotion like what Bellator MMA has done with RIZIN in recent years. Co-promotion has been very rare across MMA and Sityodtong doesn’t really see a need to explore that option for ONE Championship unless the opportunity was there to potentially work with who he considered the other biggest show in town.

“Only UFC,” Sityodtong said on The MMA Hour. “Look, again, if you look at the largest players in the combat sports industry, pure facts and figures. Forget about marketing. Pure facts and figures. The Nielsen industry report, if you’re a fan an don’t know anything, go look at the followers that ONE has. We have 70 million social media followers globally, when you include China and stuff. I think the UFC has 100 million plus.

“It’s very clear there are two big giants — one in the east and one in the west.”

The study referenced by Sityodtong was released by Nielsen Sports in 2021, which touted the biggest sports properties globally while measuring everything from organic reach on television to social media influence and video views across numerous platforms.

The report constantly touted ONE Championship and the UFC as the two biggest players in combat sports. When it came to television reach, ONE Championship sat at 406 million with the UFC at 259 million globally.

Sityodtong was quick to mention that study again when asked about global competitors in MMA because in his mind there are only two logistical threats to ONE Championship currently promoting events across the world.

“It’s UFC and Bellator,” Sityodtong said. “I think you should take a look at hard facts and numbers. Let’s look at Nielsen, the came out with a report of the top 10 largest sports media properties. They came out with it last year, I think about a year ago. According to Nielson, our TV reach, unique reach, meaning viewers who watch ONE Championship is I think 409 million. UFC was 259 million, this is global numbers, and Bellator was at 11 million. Those are in combat sports.

“If you are a casual fan, just go to all the social media pages. Look at the number of followers, look at the engagement rate, look at the number of video views. Let’s just take a look at Facebook. UFC has I think 40 million fans on Facebook. We have 38 million fans on Facebook. Bellator has 2 million or 3 million, I think PFL has 1 million. But you’ve got to look at the engagement rates. That’s how you know if you have a real fanbase.”

Because he believes ONE Championship and the UFC are the two biggest juggernauts in combat sports, Sityodtong doesn’t really see a need to co-promote with another brand.

Sityodtong says he isn’t concerned with hype or marketing, especially when it comes to certain fighters getting a lot of attention. In his mind, it all comes down to talent and ability and he’d be willing to put the best of the best from ONE against the greatest fighters from the UFC because Sityodtong considers that the top of the sport.

“I truly believe in our talent,” Sityodtong said. “I don’t look at it again from a pure, how much marketing hype, who’s good on social media, etc. Again, a lot can be mismarketed ‘this guy’s amazing!’ Actually, he’s not that great of a fighter but he’s amazing on Twitter. He’s amazing on self-promotion and that can get lost in the shuffle, especially with a casual or mainstream fan.

“But in ONE, I can tell you every single person in these different disciplines are the best on the planet.”

While it seems highly unlikely the UFC would partner with anybody, Sityodtong isn’t exactly calling out the promotion either because he’s more than happy with the product and the fighters he’s already got in ONE Championship.

If anything, Sityodtong’s interest in co-promotion would really come down to the competition and not the amount of money he’d be adding to his bank account by working hand-in-hand with the UFC.

“Yes, I’m a businessman, I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m a lifelong martial artist,” Sityodtong explained. “There’s no amount of money — if somebody offered me $10 billion to buy ONE, that doesn’t motivate me. I don’t have Ferrari’s. I have one car, a Toyota. I don’t have material things. My life isn’t driven by material things.

“The happiest times in life is when I’m training Muay Thai or I’m doing jiu-jitsu. That’s the happiest two hours of my day, everyday.”

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