MMA: One Championship mulling over United States SPAC deal

Lito Adiwang and Namiki Kawahara (left) in their One: Unbreakable strawweight bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, on Jan 22, 2021.
Lito Adiwang and Namiki Kawahara (left) in their One: Unbreakable strawweight bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, on Jan 22, 2021.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg, Reuters) - Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation One Championship is considering options including seeking a listing in the United States via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), according to people familiar with the matter.

The Singaporean sports media company has picked Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to help prepare for the potential listing, said the sources.

The rival to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has held preliminary discussions with several SPACs, they said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are not public.

The company, whose valuation is more than US$1 billion (S$1.33 billion), could also raise capital via other routes including an initial public offering or seeking funds privately, they said.

Discussions are preliminary and no final decision has been made, said sources. Representatives for Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and One Championship declined to comment.

One Championship is backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Singapore state investment firms Temasek Holdings Pte and GIC Pte, according to its website.

Its events span martial arts and combat sports including Muay Thai, kickboxing, karate and taekwondo and are broadcast in more than 150 countries.

Other MMA promotions have also recently announced plans for expansion.

Last Thursday (Feb 18), UFC and TikTok inked a multi-year partnership that will see the short video app live-stream UFC's content. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The agreement includes weekly UFC live-streams that will feature behind-the-scenes footage and interactions with athletes, TikTok said in a blog post.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) also on Thursday announced US$65 million (S$86 million) in new financing and will invest that capital in expanding an international MMA competition built on football's Champions League model.

Unlike the UFC, which stitches together cards around a marquee fight, the PFL presents MMA in a format where individuals compete in a regular season, play-offs, and championship for a million-dollar prize in each weight class for both men and women.

ViacomCBS-owned fight circuit Bellator MMA also recently announced two new TV deals with Showtime in the United States and the BBC's iPlayer streaming service in Britain, with the organisation eyeing an expansion in other markets.