The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is without a doubt the biggest Mixed Martial Arts organisation in the world. It boasts of having some of the biggest superstars in all of the sports. They have the network backing of the world leader in sports, ESPN. UFC boasts of having a valuation of $7 Billion.
Those are staggering figures, which puts UFC miles ahead of any other MMA organisations in the world. For so long they have had a complete monopoly over the MMA world. They generated revenue of US$700 million in 2017. With the ESPN TV deal which is worth $1.5 Billion, UFC is very well a money maker.
However, despite such strong financial backings, most fighters aren’t happy with what they’re being paid by the UFC. Over the past few years, UFC has lost quite good fighters because the company couldn’t come in financial terms with them.
For example, current Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald and current Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi jumped ship last year when UFC couldn’t offer them good deals. Both fighters were top-ranked contenders in the UFC and Mousasi was riding on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC when he was released.
Now there’s another International MMA organisation in the US which is ready to showcase it’s potential. ONE championship which is the biggest MMA organisation in Asia aims to take over the US market which is currently dominated by WME-IMG owned UFC.
ONE championship has already made power moves having attracted former UFC flyweight champion and pound-for-pound top fighter Demetrious Johnson, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and rising MMA star Sage Northcutt.
ONE has already signed a broadcast deal with Turner Sports. The three-year agreement will see ONE championship stream live events in the US on B/R Live, which is a subscription-based OTT service. TNT which is Turner’s flagship linear television channel will show at least 12 one-hour, taped re-airs featuring ONE’s events each year.
Last year while speaking to Sports Pro Media, Chatri Sidyodtong who is the CEO of the Asian organisation had said that ONE championship is changing tides in the world of sports entertainment.
“This is the first time in history that an Asian property is exporting content into a major US broadcaster, and is almost a changing of the tides in the flow of content from the East to the West.”
Even though according to Chatri, the millennial audience isn’t interested in watching tradition television anymore, he pointed out the importance of being on both the platforms.
“It is very important for us to be on both platforms. This can prove to be Asia’s first truly global sports property and has been validated by one of the most sophisticated broadcasters of sports.”
So far ONE championship have done everything right with their promotion as far as broadcast deals and visibility of their brand is concerned. ONE is yet to host an event in the United States and then in true sense will we able to see how they fare in terms of ticket sales.
Even though ONE claims to be the biggest MMA organisation in India, they didn’t have a broadcast deal with Indian network until recently when they signed a deal to broadcast all its fight on Star Sports channel and Hotstar app. On the other hand, UFC was already present in the Indian market for a long time and in 2018 they hit a historic 100 Million viewers.
ONE champion still has a long way to go before they have a visible impact and are in a position to end UFC’s monopoly in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
But they’re still going about it, one kick at a time.