One of the extraordinary things about ONE Championship is the fact that it was created by a former professional Muay Thai fighter, Chatri Sityodtong.
Sityodtong is still the CEO of the world’s most diverse and fastest growing combat sports promotion in the world. In the summer of 2020 he spoke to Business Insider about the brutal sport of Myanmar: Lethwei.
In the interview Sityodtong confirmed that ONE Championship and World Lethwei Championship (WLC) are in talks about cross-promotion possibilities in order to try and elevate their brands.
Sityodtong, who is based in Singapore, and WLC CEO Gerald Ng, who resides in Myanmar, know each other well as Sityodtong employed Ng in his media department between 2013 and 2015. They have remained in close contact and when ONE promoted events in Myanmar Sityodtong contacted Ng about collaborating. The first ONE Championship events in Myanmar had Lethwei fights on the card.
“We’ve got a long-standing relationship with ONE Championship, and when they first started doing shows in Myanmar, they leaned on our expertise on Lethwei.” Ng told Business Insider.
Sityodtong told Business Insider earlier that year that he is excited to incorporate more Lethwei fights on the ONE Championship shows: “I want to showcase all the martial arts at ONE Championship, because fighting is a celebration of Asia’s greatest cultural treasure.”
Sityodtong called Lethwei “a genuine art,” adding: “There’s mastery involved. It takes a decade of training every day to get to the top.”
Sityodtong specifically praised World Lethwei Championship’s Cruiserweight champion Dave Leduc, calling the unbeaten Canadian “a monster”. He added “I love Leduc’s fighting style – I love his aggression, and I love his finishing ability. He’s a real stud, and I would love to have him fighting on the ONE Championship shows.”
Ng told Business Insider that they’d known about Sityodtong’s love for Leduc for quite some time and that they’d love to cross promote – i.e. exchange fighters. But Sityodtong said “A co-promotion would be unlikely as I would only consider such a deal with the Las Vegas fight firm the UFC.”
But Ng said: “We’re talking to ONE and Chatri… to allow some of our athletes compete for ONE, and we might see athletes from ONE compete for World Lethwei Championship as well.”
There seems to be talks going on but with different opinions about what the goal is. But nonetheless this is exciting and interesting for fight fans across the globe since ONE Championship is on par with the UFC when it comes to TV-viewership and fan base (and actually number 1 when it comes to video views on social media with the UFC ranking as number 5). Source: Nielsen. Download the Nielsen report here.