Singapore based promotion ONE Championship has made no secret of its intentions to compete with, and even surpass, the planet’s most popular MMA organisations.
In 2019 ONE Championship hosted a total of 42 events, an identical amount to the UFC. That included the breaking of potentially lucrative new ground in the markets of Japan and Vietnam.
ONE Championship held its first Japanese show in March, before returning in October with a pioneering double-header to celebrate the 100th event.
Ho Chi Minh became the first Vietnamese city to host a ONE Championship event in September, where the lack of a sanctioning body for mixed martial arts meant the card had to consist exclusively of Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.
Since its founding in 2011 ONE Championship has emerged as one of Asia’s most popular sporting leagues and a genuine competitor to the UFC. In that year there was just a single fight card, held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The number of events has steadily progressed over the years to reach this record high in 2019. A major expansion came in 2018 when the number of events of events ramped up dramatically with 23 shows compared to 13 the previous year.
In 2019 the events skyrocketed in frequency, almost doubling to reach 42. That leap coincided with the acquisition of some marquee new talent such as former UFC champions Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.
The proliferation of ONE Warrior Series shows has also helped to bolster those figures. The UFC’s talent-spotting equivalent, Dana White’s Contender Series, isn’t included in their overall number as it exists as a separate entity.
The next primary offensive for ONE lies in gaining a foothold in the North American market. UFC veterans Johnson, Alvarez and Sage Northcutt will surely feature prominently along with Hawaiian based siblings Angela Lee and Christian Lee.
In that market ONE Championship will be testing themselves in open waters against both the UFC and Bellator. The latter put on 28 events last year, the third highest number among the major promotions.
Behind them sits Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA). Founded by renowned manager Ed Soares, the Houston-based organisation put on a total of 23 events last year.
Other promotions in the Asian market were nowhere near as busy or as active in different territories. Shooto put on 18 events in Japan in addition to several amateur tournaments.
Meanwhile Pancrase put on 13 events last year but that number will be reduced to ten in 2020. There are 15 ONE Championship events on the current calendar for 2020 with the schedule for ONE Hero Series China, ONE Hero Series Philippines and ONE Hero Series Muay Thai yet to be released.