Kickboxing: One Championship diversifies, gets a kick out of new kickboxing series

Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (right), whom One Championship has signed for its inaugural kickboxing competition, sparring with muay thai star Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn in May 2015. One aims to have the same pay structure for both mixed martial ar
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (right), whom One Championship has signed for its inaugural kickboxing competition, sparring with muay thai star Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn in May 2015. One aims to have the same pay structure for both mixed martial arts and kickboxing.ST FILE PHOTO

Known for mixed martial arts (MMA), One Championship plans to broaden its offerings with the launch of kickboxing competition One Super Series, which will form part of the promotion's Manila event on April 20.

Chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong told The Straits Times yesterday that he hopes to introduce stand-alone events from the kickboxing series later this year, while weight classes and titles will also be introduced.

The kickboxing and MMA events will alternate, meaning they will not take place in the same week, with One typically holding its fights on Fridays.

Chatri denied that the new venture would confuse fans and dilute his organisation's brand, saying: "Asia is the home of martial arts and everyone here has an appreciation and intrinsic understanding of it.

"The reason why Starbucks is so successful is that it offers so many forms of coffee and tea. Others may have done this on a smaller scale, but (this move) is a complete game changer because it's done on a global level."

Kickboxing is focused on striking - with both arms and legs - in a boxing ring and does not involve grappling, take-downs or submissions, unlike MMA.

Athletes from both sides may cross over freely for bouts.

One has signed kickboxers like Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and Yodcherry Sityodtong, with Jo Nattawut facing Giorgio Petrosyan in the Philippines. It staged 14 events across Asia last year and has 23 scheduled this year.

According to One, the pay structure for both the MMA and kickboxing promotions will be "similar", with top fighters from both sides able to earn "millions".

One's atomweight world champion Angela Lee makes a guaranteed six-figure sum for bouts, excluding bonuses.

At the other end of the scale, budding fighters who are not well known may get about $1,300 per fight, according to previous media reports.

Singapore's lightweight fighter Amir Khan, who has fought in muay thai bouts in the past, said: "It's great that One Championship is providing a world-class platform for the striking arts now.

"More fighters now get the opportunity to compete in kickboxing and muay thai as well as MMA.

"I wouldn't mind crossing over every now and then.

"I'm fully focused on MMA right now, but I am definitely open to both."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'One diversifies, gets a kick out of new series'. Print Edition | Subscribe