ONE 165 will take place in Qatar. Chatri Sityodtong broke the news on Facebook just now with the promotion returning to the Middle East for the first time since 2014.
It will also be the first numbered ONE Championship card to take place since November. This suggests that the event will not be broadcast live on Amazon Prime in North America.
Last year it was announced that ONE Championship had signed an MOU with Media City Qatar. The stated purpose was,
To develop a strategic long-term partnership, collaborating in the production and development of a wide range of global content in Qatar across multiple media sectors, including original programming, studio shows, and esports, that will strengthen Qatar’s growing media ecosystem.
It isn’t clear whether ONE 165 will be part of this deal but it will end the nine year wait for the region to host a card. The last time Chatri Sityodtong’s promotion was in the Middle East the likes of Ben Askren, Roger Huerta and Shinya Aoki were all in action.
The first two have long since retired while Aoki is still going strong at the age of 40. ONE: ‘Reign of Champions’ was held at the World Trade Centre in Abu Dhabi in the days when the promotion only put on MMA fights.
Undefeated Ben Askren finishes Nobutatsu Suzuki by TKO,
to become the ONE Welterweight Champion pic.twitter.com/Xigt5ZcbIn
— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) August 30, 2016
So far this year ONE Championship has used Bangkok as a base for virtually all of its live events. As well as the weekly cards at Lumpinee Stadium there have also been six Amazon Prime cards in Thailand.
But the promotion did make its US debut in May with ONE Fight Night 1o which took place in Denver and was headlined by a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes. There is also an event in Singapore coming up later this month.
It appears that ONE Championship is set to explore more new territory either this year or next. While the UAE has become synonymous with MMA after multiple UFC cards there have been virtually no high profile events in neighbouring Qatar.
Saudi Arabia recently acquired a stake in the Professional Fighter’s League through its Sovereign Wealth Fund. It appears that Qatar wants to get in on the action and will be hosting ONE 165 in the coming months.