Martial Arts Face Off

Why One Championship Is Loved by Gen Z

The mixed martial arts scene saw the emergence of a new platform in 2011. The One Championship emerged from the fiercely competitive Asian fighting arenas to compete in the global market ruled for over three decades by the UFC. One Championship prides itself on setting an unprecedented amalgamation of conventional fight rules and settings with a modern approach. This unique approach helped One Championship rightfully earn the title of “ONE, The Home of Martial Arts.” 

The One Championship was established by Chatri Sityodtong, a billionaire entrepreneur who is widely admired in the business community for his strong leadership, work ethic, vision, and overall presence. His company, One Championship, which is now a multinational combat sports promotion organization, effectively serves as a comprehensive solution to the many issues plaguing the UFC. 

The fans of the UFC have often expressed growing discontent regarding the perceived lack of diversity in the fighters presented for combat. Furthermore, there is widespread criticism of the stringent weight-cutting requirements imposed on these athletes, as they pose significant health risks. One Championship is a determined effort to fix these issues and bring about positive changes. But these are not the only reasons One Championship is gaining popularity among MMA fans. The new MMA enthusiasts, specifically those from the Gen Z era, prefer ONE over other fighting leagues and championships for quite a few solid reasons. 

The organization has strategically carved out its niche within the highly competitive mixed martial arts market, and now, with its popularity rapidly rising among young viewers, there is no stopping the juggernaut. One Championship has achieved a lot of impressive milestones since its first foray into the market. According to Forbes, CNN, and Bloomberg, ONE has become the biggest global sports property in Asian history, hosting more than 300 live events all across the continent’s most iconic cities and localities. The supporters of this tournament cite the following reasons for it being their preferred competition. 

The Distinction Between Fight Styles

The One Championship matches are divided not just based on the weight classes but into distinct categories according to the rules set for each format. The MMA matches follow the Global Martial Arts Rule Set, blending “Best Practices from Asian and Non-Asian Rules.” The Kickboxing and Muay Thai matches are conducted according to the Global Kickboxing Rule Set and the Global Muay Thai Rule Set. Lastly, the Submission Grappling matches follow the Global Submission Grappling Rule Set. 

This attention to minute details won fans over by paying respect to traditional fighting styles while adhering to a modern rule set according to industry standards.

Organic Growth in the Global Media

Unlike many newer entertainment networks, One Championship expanded into the global market quite organically. There was a district absence of shoving their presence down the MMA fans’ throats through social media campaigns that the Gen Z fans quite admired. 

It was only after establishing itself securely in the Asian market that One Championship expanded on a global scale through North America. After its initial three-year deal in 2018 with Turner Sports, ONE has been in a landmark multi-year partnership with Amazon Prime Video in the United States and Canada since 2022. This partnership allows Amazon to stream at least twelve events hosted by ONE annually for the next five years. As of today, One Championship events are broadcast live in more than 190 countries via Prime Video in the U.S., Sky Sports in the UK, Globo in Brazil, beIN Sports in the Middle East and North Africa, and Seven Network in Australia, among others. Boasting 80 million+ followers on official social platforms and an impressive 20 billion+ views One Championship is quickly becoming a worthy contender worth all the hype. 

Promise to Uphold the Authentic MMA Experience

In an interview with the Sports Business Journal, ONE Vice President Rich Franklin stated, “The North American audience’s demand for martial arts is only increasing year on year, and as The Home of Martial Arts, we can’t wait to give them a new, refreshing, authentic experience of watching combat sports.” The immense popularity and success of the ONE’s inaugural on-ground event in the United States, held in Colorado in May 2023, serve as a testament to his words. Remarkably, the event sold out two months in advance, with an impressive 40% of attendees traveling from out of state specifically to witness this historic event.

Healthy Weight-Cutting Rules for Fighters

ONE Championship differentiates itself not merely through its content but also through its fighter-friendly rule set and weight-cutting policy. ONE adopts a firm stance against weight-cutting via dehydration, prioritizing the health and well-being of its athletes. By ensuring that fighters are adequately hydrated and in optimal condition, ONE creates a fair and safe environment for competition.

ONE’s innovative program, designed specifically for combat sports, prioritizes athlete safety by implementing a “walking weight” format. Adapted following comprehensive deliberations and recommendations of ONE’s medical and competition teams, this format incorporates multiple weigh-ins and hydration tests throughout fight week, including both pre- and post-event assessments.

 The combination of ONE’s athletes being in optimal physical condition and the cumulative judging system employed in their mixed martial arts (MMA) fights, as opposed to the round-by-round system, results in an exceptionally high finishing rate. Over two-thirds of ONE’s MMA contests conclude with a knockout or submission finish, which is the highest finishing rate among all major global combat sports organizations.

The main reason behind One Championship’s successful entry into the US market and its swift surge in popularity among the younger generation is its core values. These values prioritize the unique fighting skills, health, and safety of its fighters above the company’s financial gain. In just six months, ONE saw a remarkable 46% growth in US audiences, of which roughly 63% were Gen Z, making ONE the most highly rated MMA organization among new combat sports fans.

After the roaring success of their debut event, ONE has announced two more major events in the States this year. Get ready to see the ONE Championship live in September 2024 at Ball Arena in Denver and in November 2024 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The combination of these events, along with the regular monthly primetime matches in the US on Amazon Prime Video, will further boost ONE’s growth.

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