Chatri Sityodtong appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier today. Speaking from Tokyo, the ONE Championship head honcho elaborated on a number of topics including the imminent announcement of a US broadcast deal.

“We’re going to be announcing a US TV deal in the next two or three weeks, we are in the very final stages. We’ve been talking to broadcasters for about a year, various broadcasters and one is now the frontrunner. It’s one of the major broadcasters that is already home to one of the major sports in the US. Stay tuned,” he told Helwani.

The bad news for fight fans in the US is that their days of being able to watch every ONE Championship card live and free appear to be numbered.

“Unfortunately for the US market, once we announce the TV deal the app is no longer free,” Chatri said.

The ONE Championship founder and CEO was speaking from Tokyo. The promotion’s inaugural Japanese event is set for March 31st and Chatri is excited about the potential of that particular market.

“I believe we have an opportunity to be bigger here than Pride was,” he told Helwani.

Mutual benefit

They also discussed the recent deal which saw Demetrious Johnson move from the UFC to ONE Championship with Ben Askren heading in the opposite direction. Chatri feels this exchange will be of benefit to all parties.

“I just wanted to make sure everyone was happy about it. I believe in ‘win win’ I wanted to make sure that DJ was happy and the UFC was ok with it and so was Ben Askren. Everybody was better off, literally everyone. Ben Askren is going to be a massive star in the UFC. I’ve seen Ben maul elite ONE Championship and Bellator fighters, I won’t reveal names but people in the know realize how good Ben Askren is.”

Chatri also discussed the appeal of former UFC stars like Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt who have all put pen to paper on ONE Championship deals in recent weeks.

“I’m looking for guys like Eddie, like DJ, like Sage who are not only the world’s greatest martial artists but embody the values of martial arts.¬†Between UFC, ONE and Bellator an athlete can choose where he or she feels most at home. DJ will never be the trash talker that disses people, he will always be a man of character and a man of values. Every industry has companies that seek out certain types of talent and vice versa so that’s what you’re seeing now.”

Multiple discussions

The ONE Championship CEO said that ‘multiple discussions’ were ongoing with other fighters but reiterated that anyone wanting to sign with his promotion would need to have certain characteristics and values.

“I really wouldn’t (sign Conor McGregor). I don’t think he would do well out here in Asia. In fact if he did some of the things he’s already done the governments here would take serious issue.”

Helwani himself took issue with recent comments from Dana White suggesting that Sage Northcutt had been released. He pointed out that the photogenic welterweight, who is riding a three fight winning streak, had been offered a new contract by the UFC but had decided to sign with ONE Championship instead.

Chatri went into a bit more detail about how the signing unfolded.

“A few weeks ago Sage came to Singapore and we’d already agreed on a deal. At the same time the UFC had offered Sage Damian Maia to try and get him back into the UFC and Sage and his father just wanted to be with us. Then they presented the offer to Hunter (Campbell) and UFC couldn’t or wouldn’t match so Dana came out and said what he said but we’d already signed an agreement.”

Helwani asked how the UFC contract offer compared to ONE’s but Chatri said he didn’t know the answer.

“I don’t know what UFC was offering, I didn’t ask. We just put our best foot forward.”

Market value

When Helwani questioned whether ONE Championship was paying over the odds for the likes of Johnson, Alvarez and Northcutt Chatri replied,

“I wouldn’t say over pay, I would say pay what they are worth”

Johnson and Alvarez are both set to participate in eight man tournaments in 2019. Northcutt will be making his promotional debut in Singapore and Chatri had high praise for the welterweight.

“I really believe in Sage as a talent, he’s a multiple time Karate world champion. He’s the most talented pound for pound martial artist on the planet.”