mixed martial arts has become a money-making machine over the years
ONE Championship to challenge UFC in North America after scoring TNT television deal.
The big business of MMA
Randy Couture, six-time MMA champion, and Peter Murray, Professional Fighters League CEO, on the business of MMA.
What was once merely an attraction whispered about in hushed tones, mixed martial arts has become a money-making machine over the years after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.
In North America, the MMA market has been dominated by the brash, trash-talking Ultimate Fighting Championship since the promotion's inception in 1993, which began as an oddity fringe-sport and has since grown to earn deals with the likes of Reebok, getting sports coverage across network and cable TV.
Many have attempted to wrest that dominance from the UFC over the years, yet all have failed. President Donald Trump and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban tried their luck back in 2008, when they turned an MMA apparel company, Affliction, into an actual promotion that the UFC successfully counterprogrammed.
Trump and Cuban dropped the venture, unable to compete with the world's leading mixed martial arts promotion. After two successful Affliction events, a third one went up in flames when one half of the headlining fight tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The promotion folded immediately after that.
But now, a new league is coming to town, one that is completely different from the product UFC fans have come to know over the years. A promotion that has dominated the Asian MMA market and is closing in on their 100th show.
A NEW PLAYER IN TOWN
ONE Championship, the biggest sports promotion in Asia will be a soon-to-be presence in the US after signing a television deal with TNT Sports late last year, president Chatri Sityodong told FOX Business.
“We offer a completely, 180 degree, diametrically opposed product to what North American MMA fans are used to seeing (in promotions like UFC and Bellator),” Sityodong told FNB in a phone interview Friday.
“American MMA is a blood sport, it promotes anger… controversy… negative energy. What ONE Championship does is offer a very different set of values. Things like respect, honor, humility.”
“We showcase the best of humanity,” he added.
In a sport that’s become synonymous with the letters UFC, mixed martial arts has always had it's roots in more traditional disciplines, ranging from standup games from Muay Thai, kickboxing and karate to wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
In the UFC, fans have come to know household names like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, two of the brightest stars of the sport. But both men have continually found themselves in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Just last week, McGregor made headlines after sucker-punching an elderly man in his native Ireland, all for refusing a drink of McGregor’s whisky brand Proper 12.