SINGAPORE (AFP) – Asia’s largest mixed martial arts promotion, One Championship, will return behind closed doors in Thailand next month after a five-month break because of the coronavirus, officials said yesterday.
One, which promotes cards across the region in mixed martial arts, Muay Thai and kickboxing, last put on a major show at the end of February.
The Singapore-based company has since cancelled several events and slashed 20 per cent of staff, although it has also revealed a USD70 million funding boost from institutional investors.
With virus outbreaks slowing in many parts of Asia, the company said its flagship events would restart with an event without fans in the Thai capital Bangkok on July 31.
“Most national borders remain closed in Asia, and this has posed unique logistical and operational challenges,” One’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong said.
The first three major bouts of the ‘One: No Surrender’ event have been confirmed.
Among fighters taking part are ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion Rodtang ‘The Iron Man’ Jitmuangnon, Petchdam ‘The Baby Shark’ Petchyindee Academy, and ‘The Boxing Computer’ Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex.
One had already put on fights in its Hero series, feeder events for the main championship, in China in June, before deciding to resume major shows. The United States-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on May 10 became one of the first sports to restart post-coronavirus.
UFC has so far successfully put on six shows in tightly controlled environments in Jacksonville, Florida, and Las Vegas.