ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong believes his promotion has better lighter divisions than the UFC, and has pitched a blockbuster cross-promotion event.
As the Singapore-based promotion continues to go from strength to strength, Sityodtong believes they have the rosters to be able to compete with the UFC. He’ll be hoping that point will be proved at the upcoming ONE Championship: Revolution event.
In a showcase of the lighter divisions Sidyodtong recently praised, the lightweight, featherweight, and strawweight titles will be on the line. In the main event, ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee will look to culminate his clearing out of the top-five contenders when he faces Ok Rae Yoon, who last defeated former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.
Ahead of the upcoming event, Chatri Sityodtong compared the promotion with the UFC. During an interview with MMA Junkie, the CEO went as far as to suggest that the lighter divisions in ONE are better than the UFC’s equivalent rosters. However, he did admit that the Dana White-led promotion boasts the better heavier weight classes. Sityodtong also suggested that the likes of Bellator and PFL can’t hold a light to ONE Championship and the UFC when it comes to rosters.
“As a lifelong martial artist, I can tell you that the two best rosters in the world are UFC and ONE, bar none. I would say that UFC has the edge in the heavier weight classes, and I’d say ONE has the edge in the lighter weight classes.
“When you look at a lot of the UFC stars that came over to ONE, like Eddie Alvarez or Sage Northcutt or Yushin Okami or even (Demetrious Johnson), they’ve all gotten knocked out. I would argue that ONE has the better lighter divisions and heavyweight and light heavyweight, I’d say UFC has the edge.” (h/t MMA Junkie)
With the recent championship crowning of AJ McKee in Bellator, many have brought up the idea of a cross promotion event pitching “Mercenary” against the likes of Alexander Volkanovski or Max Holloway. When asked whether he’d be open to a cross-promotion event featuring ONE Championship, Sityodtong said he’d be all for it.
“The most common question I get asked is would you ever do a meta-global event – ONE vs. UFC, champion vs. champion – and I’m all for it. Out here in Asia, the lighter weight classes are more populous. The talent pool here is endless in Asia. Martial arts is Asia’s greatest cultural treasure. Asia is the birth place of martial arts for the last 5,000 years, so there’s tons and tons of talent.”
But the 50-year-old Sityodtong went on to explain that it would have to involve the UFC in order for the event to be worth it.
“Neilsen came out with an industry report a couple of months ago naming the biggest sports properties in the world, and it’s only UFC and ONE in the top-10 in the world. The only two combat sports promotions that were there were UFC and ONE, and were neck and neck in terms of viewership numbers. I think we were No. 3 in the world in viewership numbers, and I think UFC was No. 5 or No. 6. But then on digital and social, UFC was No. 4 or 3 and we were No. 4 or 5. The other players are much smaller in terms of viewership metrics.
“When you do a cross-promotion, it has to make sense not only from a talent perspective, but also from a global relevance. We would bring all of Asia as Asia’s largest promotion,” said Sityodtong
While ONE Championship gets set for their Revolution event, the UFC has a blockbuster card of its own just weeks away, one that will also be headlined by two of the promotion’s best low-weight fighters. The UFC 266 pay-per-view will hit Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on September 25.
At the top of the card, this year’s The Ultimate Fighter coaches Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will clash for the UFC Featherweight Championship. But before that, gold will also be on the line in the co-main event when Valentina Shevchenko meets Lauren Murphy inside the Octagon.
Do you agree with Chatri Sityodtong? Does ONE Championship boast better lighter divisions than the UFC?