MMA: One Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong fires broadside at Western rivals

Chatri Sityodtong, chairman and chief executive officer of Singapore-based mixed martial arts promoter One Championship.
Chatri Sityodtong, chairman and chief executive officer of Singapore-based mixed martial arts promoter One Championship.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - One Championship chairman and chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong is confident that the Singapore-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter can more than hold its own against its Western competitors such as the US-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (Nov 22), ahead of Friday's (Nov 24) Immortal Pursuit event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Chatri said: "Have we ever had any kind of scandal? They have weekly scandals; people in jail, people on drugs or cocaine. That is unacceptable in One Championship.

"My dream for these heroes is to have children all over Asia to have their posters and their parents in the crowd because these athletes, our heroes, are honourable, dignified, respectable athletes who are uniting the world with confidence, courage, hope, dreams and strength.

"That is what One Championship is about."

One Championship announced in September that it would stage a record 24 events live across Asia next year, entering new markets in South Korea and Japan.

There were 18 events scheduled this year - the most in a single season - and Chatri promised fans that 2018 would be "an epic year of action".

"For me, I just want the best martial artists on the planet. I don't care if they come from the West or from Asia. Obviously, Asia has the best pool of martial artists," he said.

"Simply, Asia is martial arts and martial arts is Asia. But we will be selective. There are Western competitors, who I think will resonate to the Asian audience."

The Immortal Pursuit event will see undefeated One Championship welterweight world champion Ben Askren take on his Evolve Fight Team stable-mate Shinya Aoki in one of the co-main events, with Singaporean fighter Amir Khan facing Australian veteran Adrian Pang in the other.

Elsewhere on the card at Immortal Pursuit, Singapore Olympian-turned-mixed martial artist May Ooi faces Cambodian Vy Srey Khouch, while another Singaporean fighter, Tiffany Teo, fights Puja Tomar from India.

Tickets for One: Immortal Pursuit are available at www.sportshubtix.com.sg