Where The Martial Arts Landscape Stands Ahead Of ONE Championship's U.S. Debut

Where The Martial Arts Landscape Stands Ahead Of ONE Championship's U.S. Debut
Event week is finally here for ONE Championship’s debut show on U.S. soil. ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video is set to light up Denver’s 1stBank Center this Friday, May 5, with an incredible 11-fight card that will showcase three different sports and announce the Singapore-based organization on American shores in style.

Ahead of the impactful debut, we thought it was worth looking at where the land lies currently in martial arts promotion.

ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong recently appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and laid out his thoughts on the current state of the martial arts space.

Sityodtong used numbers from the 2022 Nielsen Sports Year In Review: Sports Consumption Evolution report to back up the claim that ONE and the UFC are at the top of the heap by a wide margin.

"Well, let's look at Nielsen. They came out with an industry report of the top 20 largest sports media properties. And they came out with it last year, right? I think about a year ago. According to Neilsen, our TV reach, unique reach meaning viewers who watch ONE Championship, is 400-million-plus. UFC was 259 million. This is global numbers. And Bellator was at 11 million. OK, those are in combat sports. They had all the sports properties lined up together. That's Neilsen," Sityodtong said.

The Nielsen report also tackled the change in viewer habits, and those numbers continued to show the divide between the top two martial arts organizations and the rest of the field.

In total video views across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, ONE netted 13.8 billion views. The UFC checked in with 6.6 billion across platforms, with no other martial arts company breaking into the top 20.

Sityodtong also pointed to the cumulative total of followers across ONE and UFC's social media pages. Those numbers continued to share the stark contrast between the two organizations and other promotions.

Pointing to the UFC's 40 million Facebook fans and ONE's 38 million, the organization's co-founder illustrated that no other combat sports entity was close to their engagement rates, before he moved on to the financial divide between the top two and everyone else.

"But then if you look from a financial perspective, there's only two companies in combat sports globally that have a billion-dollar-plus valuation, based on investors saying 'Hey, we've looked at all your numbers, all your data. We want to invest.' It is what it is. I would rather look at hard facts and figures, verifiable. And anyone can do this," Sityodtong said.

The UFC received a valuation of $12.1 billion ahead of its recent merger with the WWE. ONE, backed by Sequoia, Guggenheim, QIA, Temasek, ICONIQ, Vulcan, and Mission, received a $1.4 billion valuation in comparison, with all others failing to break the billion mark.

Backed up by the data, there can be no argument against Sityodtong saying that combat sports has a global duopoly. ONE and the UFC are the only truly worldwide sports properties in the space.

Perhaps more impressively, ONE has done this without stepping foot in America. That changes with ONE Fight Night 10 on May 5. The sold-out event will air live and free for subscribers to Prime Video and will only continue to grow ONE globally, where it is already one of the largest and fastest-growing sports media properties.

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