ONE Championship CEO Sityodtong Hopes For Qatar Return After Blockbuster Debut

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Chinthana Wasala |The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: ONE 166: Qatar, which took the combat sports world by storm at a marquee fight night at the Lusail Sports Arena on March 1, was described as a“huge success” by the mastermind behind the fast-rising global martial arts organization, Chatri Sityodtong.

The event dubbed the biggest combat sports event in the history of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, not only surpassed expectations locally but also achieved outstanding viewership numbers globally across linear TV and social/digital audiences.

The Qatar event, which saw a packed crowd of nearly 15,000 enthusiastic martial arts fans in attendance at the state-of-the-art arena, saw Russian fighter Anatoly Malykhin make MMA history in the feature by becoming the first athlete to secure world titles in three different weight classes. In addition to Malykhin, Chinese superstar Tang Kai and Filipino sensation Joshua Pacio also made headlines by winning world titles in their respective weight classes.

According to Sityodtong, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ONE Championship, Qatar exceeded all expectations, with the country's status as a world-class host for international events playing a major role in its success.

“We are very blessed to have Qatar as our partner,” Sityodtong told The Peninsula in an exclusive interview.

“It was a huge success, not only in Qatar but in terms of viewership numbers around the world. [The event was] trending on social media in different countries around the world. And I think, most importantly, the Qatar fans truly loved it. It was the biggest combat sports show in history of the MENA region in terms of attendance numbers and in terms of viewership numbers,” Sityodtong said.

“We were very surprised that the stadium was full; I think it was about 15,000 people. And you know the fans were passionate and loud. But again, more than the event itself, the viewership numbers around the world were tremendous. And as I said, we trended on social media in China, in Thailand, in the US. So there were spectacular viewership numbers for the Qatar event,” Sityodtong stated.

Sityodtong was highly impressed with the facilities offered by the Qatar Authorities, which also played a crucial role in the event's success.

“Lusail Arena is a world-class stadium,” Sityodtong, who has thrown events in over a dozen countries all over the world, said.

“I can't speak highly enough of Qatar as a country. The people are so kind, the culture so warm, and the food is incredible. And you know it's truly a world-class country in terms of infrastructure, whether it's roads, buildings, or stadiums. It's such a pleasure to have thrown an event in Qatar,” Sityodtong said.

ONE: 166 marked the organization's first foray into the region, a move that Sityodtong believes came at the right time.

With the organization now broadcasting live in over 190 countries and holding over 60 events this year, its viewership and engagement numbers place ONE among the top sports properties worldwide. Sityodtong said that the expansion into the Middle East, with future sights set on Europe and North America, signals a new era for the organization and combat sports.

Sityodtong also highlighted ongoing negotiations to renew a deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority.

“My partner and (ONE) Group President Hua Fung Tehis leading the charge in terms of working on a renewal deal with the Qatar government. And again, we're very blessed and full of gratitude to Qatar for the partnership. The Qatar Investment Authority obviously is an investor shareholder in ONE. We're just truly grateful,” said Sityodtong, adding that the organization aims to include female fighters in future events to emphasize inclusivity and diversity in the sport.

Russian fighter Anatoly Malykhin

As combat sports continue to grow in popularity and reach, the successful event in Qatar marks a significant milestone, promising exciting developments for fans and athletes alike.

Sityodtong noted that ONE's essence lies in its unique approach to storytelling, focusing on athletes to chase their dreams and achieve their goals.

“We don't sell fights; we unleash real-life superheroes,” Sityodtong said.

“That is our mission and our DNA. And you know we tell stories of these incredible athletes, who overcome tragedy, or poverty, or adversity, or whatever it may be, in chasing their dreams and achieving their life goals,” Sityodtong said.

Sityodtong's ultimate goal for ONE is to build an iconic sports property that inspires the world while continuing to see exponential growth in global engagement.

“My team and I want to build an iconic sports property that truly inspires the world and truly elevates the world to dream more, do more, and be more in life. And you know we live that mission every single day through our values, heroes, and stories,” he said.

ONE is also focused on finding new talent in all of its emerging markets.

“We have talent scouts all over the world. And we're always looking for the next rising superstar. Obviously, we're plugged into all the martial arts schools and gyms around the world,” Sityodtong noted.

Sityodtong, who himself is a former combat sports athlete, said that the organization's strategy in entering new regions includes many factors, hopefully leading to crowning world champions from the region.

“At ONE Championship, we are hosting a variety of different disciplines, whether it's Muay Thai, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, boxing, or submission grappling. Our athletes represent the very best of the best world champions in martial arts on the planet. So it's not easy to go into a new country, or new region and expect a world champion overnight for the local population. So it'll take time, but we're investing in the fan base,” Sityodtong stated.

As ONE forge ahead, the Qatar event has proven to have elevated Asia's largest global sports property to unprecedented heights, and Sityodtong, the visionary behind it all, is more than satisfied with how things have turned out so far.

“We can't wait to come back,” Sityodtong added.


The Peninsula

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