On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams speak with ONE Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong about the MMA company’s global business, its relationship with Qatar, and its U.S. debut next month.
ONE Championship will host its first U.S. event on May 5 at the 1stBank Center outside Denver, streaming via Amazon Prime. ONE debated how big a venue to book, Sityodtong says, and tickets for the 6,500-seat venue sold out quickly. He discusses the balance of how to choose a city, and a venue, for the group’s debut in a country where it doesn’t yet have a full handle on its audience.
He also talks about the cultural differences between sporting events in Asia and sporting events in the U.S. Founded in 2011, ONE is already very popular in Asia—Sityodtong talks about how ONE’s global viewership (not including China) is larger than UFC’s. But the U.S. is the largest commercial sports market in the world, a large reason for ONE’s American ambitions.
Sityodtong talks about ONE’s media approach, and its recent $150 million raise, which valued the company at $1.4 billion. UFC, for reference, was valued at $12.1 billion in its proposed merger with WWE. Investors in that round included Guggenheim Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
ONE Championship is also hosting events in Qatar, and Sityodtong speaks at length about the use of sports as a “soft power tool” in the Middle East. That includes combat sports, and other major sporting events, like Qatar’s recent World Cup. He says he expects more global sports properties to be hosting events and setting up offices in the region in the coming years.
(You can subscribe to Sporticast through Apple, Google, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.)