6 min read
ONE Championship is revolutionizing the submission grappling
6 min read
Read how ONE Championship is revolutionizing the submission grappling world and is taking it to new heights one match, one deal, at a time
Location: Kennedy Space Center, FL
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Photo by: yodchatri
CEO of ONE Championship, Chatri Sityodtong, is quickly building something special in the grappling world and is in no short supply of letting the world know.
After the positive news of a newly released Nielsen report, Sityodtong is event more excited to speak about the growth of ONE – the martial arts promotion he founded and refers to as the “world’s largest martial arts organization.” The Singapore-based ONE Championship creates fights in kickboxing, Muay Thai, MMA, and submission grappling. The Promotion recently signed a broadcast deal with Prime Video that will bring ONE to primetime audiences in the United States and Canada.
World-class submission grappling team
A significant factor of ONE’s growth is the recent commitment to building a unit of world-class submission grappling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters, including the likes of Andre Galvao, Tye and Kade Ruotolo, Mikey Musumeci, and Danielle Kelly.
“Five years ago, we experimented with Garry Tonon versus Shinya Aoki, and it did well, but not phenomenally well, not as well as I thought. Then when we did Danielle Kelly and Mei Yamaguchi, as well as Andre Galvao versus Reinier De Ridder. Those numbers did very well, and so I was kind of surprised. And then Mikey blew the roof off the cover.”
Most-watched jiu-jitsu match in history
Sityodtong states Musumeci’s April 22 fight against Imanari was the most-watched jiu-jitsu match in history – a very believable claim considering that most of grappling’s biggest live matches are behind a complicated paywall that requires a monthly yearlong subscription up-front. Musumeci vs. Imanari was available to Americans on YouTube for Free.
Sityodtong and ONE are now 100% behind submission grappling with their Singapore based platform and they believe the time to invest is now. Bringing to the team the legendary competitor and Checkmat founder Leo Vieira as Vice President of Submission Grappling.
“Leo and I have this vision of, look, it’s a special moment in history, and three years, five years from now, I do believe that when we look back at this point in time, we’ll look at this point in time as a start of the biggest revolution in grappling history, of bringing the sport truly global and truly mainstream. I think all the elements are right,” Sityodtong said.
Sityodtong believes that talent is how a revolution will start and ultimately grow the sport into something to compete with the NBA, NFL, etc.
“We’ve been signing all the very best talent in jiu-jitsu,” he said. “And when I mean best, just because you win an IBJJF world title or an ADCC world title does not guarantee that you’ll be signed by ONE. We want to sign the very best ADCC champions, the very best IBJJF champions, in terms of not only technical prowess but in terms of aggressive style, exciting style, and finishing mindsets. That’s what draws the fans in ultimately.”
With that, ONE has signed a handful of grappling’s best stars. To add to this commitment, Musumeci has permanently moved to Singapore full-time. Showing his faith and relationship with ONE.
Notably, Sityodtong shared that the Ruotolo brothers are now exclusive with ONE. This is major considering that they collectively account for one-half of the male Who’s Number One championships.
Attracting top talent… $$$$
Sityodtong’s secret to attracting these big names… money, and he isn’t afraid to let people know. The promotion offers a massive viewership base that athletes can grow their personal brand and also offers the largest paydays in subission grappling, according to the CEO.
“This thing has been easier than I thought in terms of the interest it’s generated from the community. Every big-name jiujitero that you can think of on the planet has already contacted us or is already in discussions…” he said. “People are tired of getting paid a thousand dollars. They can see that even just the bonus alone is 50 thousand [dollars] in ONE.”
Just like the most-watched match claim, the money is true as well. Musumeci ecashed in a $50,000 bonus for his win over Imanari, and so did Tye Ruotolo with his finish over Garry Tonon.
“I’m quite confident that Tye made the most in the history of jiu-jitsu for a single match, more than Gordon Ryan or anybody,” claimed Sityodtong. “I’m pretty confident of that because I know what he made, obviously. He made a lot of money, including the bonus, and a far cry from one thousand or five thousand or whatever dollars that people get in the major tournaments today.”
Sityodtong is excited and proud that ONE is paying “multiples of whatever anyone else is paying,”however, though, these paydays are only a part of his plan to explode submission grappling into a spectator sport. Sityodtong hopes to use ONE’s verified platforms, and new Amazon Prime Video deal to launch the sport of grappling into a new sector of viewership and audience engagement.
“You can combine all the jiu-jitsu organizations today in the world and add them up, and they wouldn’t have the same viewership, would only have a fraction of the viewership ONE has,” he said.
The Superbowl of grappling
Right now, ONE submission grappling matches take place with cards featuring a mix of other fighting styles like Muay Thai or MMA. But Sityodtong envisions something greater than that of the occasional peppered in jiu-jitsu match.
“This is gonna be the Superbowl of grappling,” he said. “Most viewers, most amount of money, most amount of fans and growth for your own brand if you’re an athlete. This is not to take away anything that exists now; it’s just that our platform is so big. It attracts big dollars. It attracts big fans, and we know the formula.”
In order to make submission grappling an actual spectator sport, Sityodtong’s major hurdle is to attract fans of other sports, and we believe he moving in that direction very well.
“I want it to become a truly spectator sport in the way all the major sports properties are spectator sports. Most people who watch basketball, the NBA, actually don’t play basketball. That’s what’s amazing about what the NBA has done. Because once up a time, the NBA was only for basketball practitioners and those were the only fans that watched basketball. Today, you don’t have to ever touch a basketball and you’re still gonna watch the NBA finals, all over the world. That is my vision for ONE and grappling in ONE. It will be the NBA of grappling. It won’t be just grappling practitioners and the viewers being grappling practitioners.”
Check back here for the latest grappling news/updates and to see where ONE takes submission grappling next!