MMA: One Championship postpones first live show in Singapore since October due to coronavirus

One Championship's Inside the Matrix event at the Indoor Stadium last October.
One Championship's Inside the Matrix event at the Indoor Stadium last October.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - One Championship has postponed a live show for the first time since it restarted staging such events in Singapore last October due to the current coronavirus situation in the country, the mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation announced on Friday (May 21).

The upcoming One: Empower event, scheduled for May 28 at the Indoor Stadium, was set to feature its first all-female fight card, headlined China's Xiong Jingnan defending her women's strawweight title against Michelle Nicolini of Brazil.

It was to be the ninth live event held here since that pilot show in October.

One said: "As always, the health and safety of our athletes, staff, and fans is our top priority. A new date for the event and other details will be announced at a later date."

Nicolini, 39, who beat MMA star Angela Lee by unanimous decision in the strawweight bout in 2019, said in an Instagram post that the fight is likely to be pushed back to the middle of June. She added: "Keep rooting for me and sending good vibes!"

In its place, the company will air a tape-delayed event, One: Full Blast, featuring five fights, including a Muay Thai bantamweight contest between Thais Saemapetch Fairtex and Kulabdam Sor. Jor. Piek Uthai.

One staged the first live sports event in Singapore since the coronavirus pandemic with its Reign of Dynasties event on Oct 9 last year, which was held behind closed doors.

It then held three more events - Inside the Matrix (Oct 30), Big Bang (Dec 4) and Collision Course (Dec 18) - which each featured a limited crowd of 250 paying spectators who all had to undergo a rapid test for the coronavirus before being allowed into the venue.

In April, One staged four events in as many weeks, in the morning and without fans, so it could be aired in the United States on prime time on American television network TNT.

The ratings for the One on TNT series events have fluctuated. After drawing an average of 196,000 viewers for the first show, they saw an almost 70 per cent jump to 337,000 for the second, but dropped to 290,000 for the third.