The Singapore-based One Championship promotion continues to provide the MMA world with one explosive event after another. It made a number of impactful moves in 2018 in an effort the strengthen its position in the marketplace.
One Championship has already experienced a number of defining moments in its brief history. Here are five that stand out:
1. In the Beginning
The organization staged its first event -- “Champion vs. Champion” -- on Sept. 3, 2011 at the 12,000-seat Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. One Championship married Pride Fighting Championships rules with the Unified Rules, allowing soccer kicks, knees on the ground and stomps. It was broadcast locally on MediaCorp Channel 5 and screamed globally by Sherdog.com. One Championship has since expanded throughout Asia, promoting some 90 events.
2. Extending Its Reach
One Championship made significant strides in its bid to cover the international market when it signed a 10-year-old broadcast deal with Fox Sports Asia. With the deal now in its sixth year, no other Asian sports property can touch its reach. One Championship currently broadcasts to more than 1.7 billion viewers in roughly 138 countries. Meanwhile, it announced a media partnership with Turner Broadcasting at the end of 2018 in an attempt to break into the North American market. One Championship’s efforts have resulted in more sponsorships and big-name investors, including eight-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
3. One Super Series, One Warrior Series
One Championship utilized a five-roped ring for the first time to launch its One Super Series on Feb. 12, 2018. The inaugural event -- which featured muay Thai and kickboxing rules and coincided with the “Heroes of Honor” MMA event -- took place in Manila, Philippines, and featured a Giorgio Petrosyan-Jo Nattawut headliner. One Championship in 2018 also introduced One Warrior Series -- a reality talent search hosted by longtime vice president Rich Franklin. Rickie Bactol, Woonkyum Kim and Daesong Park were winners on the first season.
4. Stricter Protocols for Fighter Safety
Following the tragic death of Chinese fighter Yang Jian Bing in December 2015, One Championship banned weight cutting by dehydration. Bing was scheduled to face Geje Eustaquio in the Philippines when he collapsed the morning of their fight. He underwent intensive rehydration treatment, but those efforts failed. As a result, One Championship became the first promotion to ban weight cutting by dehydration. It utilizes a team to monitor fighters during their training camps and ensure they remain hydrated and healthy up to three hours before their bouts.
5. Monumental Trade and Crossover Talents
No one can deny that the inclusion of renowned personalities like Franklin and Matt Hume furthered One Championship’s appeal. Over the years, the promotion has welcomed other familiar talents into the fold, including Jens Pulver, Phil Baroni, Brandon Vera, Shinya Aoki and Bibiano Fernandes. One Championship announced in October that it had sent Ben Askren to the Ultimate Fighting Championship in exchange for Demetrious Johnson. It also signed Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt while appointing Miesha Tate to a role as a vice president.