On Nov. 24, ONE Championship returns to Singapore with two belts on the line and a major retirement fight. And then, on Nov. 25, the UFC lands in Shanghai with one of its all-time greats as a headliner.
At first glance, one could probably see a correlation there. But, according to ONE Championship founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong, the date picked for their “ONE: Immortal Pursuit” event has nothing to do with the UFC’s debut in mainland China.
“We really don’t build our business around our competitors and what they’re doing,” Sityodtong said on a conference call in support of the event, which streams live online via pay-per-view from Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. We build our business for our fans, for our advertisers, for our sponsors, for our broadcasters, for our athletes, for our staff, for anyone who’s directly involved with the ONE Championship ecosystem.”
“It just so happens that we have an event on Nov. 24 and the UFC has an event I think a couple days later, whatever it is. But it’s in a different country. This is nothing that’s on my mind.”
Still, Sityodtong isn’t shy about defending some of their own athletes compared to those of other promotions. Asked about undefeated champion Ben Askren, who’s set to have his retirement fight in the headlining bout, Sityodtong said he would still like to see him cement his legacy as the best 170-pounder in MMA history by testing himself against one of the UFC’s titleholders.
So long, Sityodtong clarified, as that person isn’t the UFC’s current 170-pound leader Tyron Woodley – who happens to train with the One Championship kingpin at Roufusport, in Milwaukee, where Askren is also a head wrestling coach.
“If you ask people who are in the know in the MMA community in America and around the world, everyone knows that Ben Askren is the single best welterweight on the planet,” Sityodtong said. “I would love to see UFC vs. One Championship welterweights go at it. Unfortunately, Tyron is also a great friend of Ben and a good friend of mine, as well. So anyone other than Tyron, I would love to see that as Ben’s final match against a UFC welterweight champion.”
At 33, Askren (17-0) has given a few reasons as to why he’s fine with his One Championship 65 battle with Shinya Aoki (39-7) being his last. But, speaking to The MMA Hour, he did leave the door open for a return under two conditions – that it’s for the No. 1 spot in the world and, again, that it isn’t against Woodley.
Sityodtong believes the promotion will have one of the greatest nights of its history with the upcoming event, which will also feature an atomweight title bout between 21-year-old champ Angela Lee (8-0) and Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi (16-10-1).
As Sityodtong made perfectly clear, the promotion is more focused on their own mission of celebrating “Asia’s greatest cultural treasure” in martial arts than on their competition. But that doesn’t mean they’re unaware of their competitors’ moves – or, better yet, their words.
When asked to further discuss his previous remarks about a possible matchup between Askren and a UFC titleholder, Sityodtong expressed his discontent with some of what was said in June, when UFC Fight Night 111 was brought to Singapore.
“A few months ago, the UFC threw an event in Asia, and some of the things they said to the media here were inaccurate,” Sityodtong said. “And some of them were patently false. And I felt the need to defend my athletes – whether it’s Ben Askren, whether it’s Shinya, whether it’s Angela Lee.
“They are, bar none, among the greatest martial artists on the planet, if not the greatest in their individual divisions.”
While Sityodtong didn’t really specify which remarks he was referring to, it might have something to do with former UFC executive Joe Carr’s dismissal of a cross-promotion fight with champ Lee, as reported by local outlet The Straits Times, on grounds of her being “fairways away” from competing in the UFC.
Sityodtong also went into further detail about the promotions’ influences in their respective markets. While they were fairly diplomatic, one could argue they also contrast with Carr’s remarks about the UFC’s actual influence in the Asian market.
“I think the UFC has done an amazing job in the Western hemisphere with their formula,” Sityodtong said. “And I think we’ve done an amazing job in the Eastern hemisphere with our formula. There is a global duopoly, just like any other industry.
“Just like Apple and Samsung, or General Motors and Toyota, or Amazon and Alibaba. There’s UFC and ONE Championship that control their respective hemispheres. I think that’s going to be a long time coming.
“There’s no industry, in the entire world, across any sector, where one player dominates the entire world. It never happened before in history. I don’t think it will ever happen. There’s always counterparts in two different geographic regions.”
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Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie