While Bellator has proven willing to play ball with other mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations, the same seemingly cannot be said for ONE Championship — perhaps outside of a groundbreaking trade.
Both major MMA promotions held events this past weekend (ONE holding two) resulting in a head-to-head viewership battle. Titles changed hands on each side of the globe with Bellator Lightweight titlist, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, dropping the strap to the undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov. Meanwhile, ONE Lightweight champion, Christian Lee, achieved double champion status, knocking off Kiamrian Abbasov at Welterweight (watch highlights).
ONE Founder and President, Chatri Sityodtong, was asked about the head-to-head with his US counterpart and could not have been less threatened by his competition.
“I mean, look at viewership numbers, the social media metrics, look at organic video views, anything,” Sityodtong told the South China Morning Post. “Bellator is like five percent that of ONE. Even competition-wise, our champions would steamroll the Bellator guys.
“The only co-promotion I’m interested in is UFC,” he concluded. “Champion versus champion.”
Regarding Sityodtong’s claims of better viewership numbers and metrics, a quick Google Trends search reveals that not to be so accurate.
With Bellator 288 now in the rear-view mirror, the promotion gears up to close out 2022 with Bellator 289 in Uncasville, Connecticut on Dec. 9, 2022, before heading to Japan for another co-promotion affair with RIZIN at RIZIN 40 on Dec. 31, 2022. Aside from RIZIN, Bellator has also worked with organizations like premier European MMA provider, Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW).
ONE has long been seeking a potential debut in the US and 2023 appears to be the year it gets closer than ever thanks to the current Amazon Prime streaming deal in place. Sityodtong has continuously expressed that discussions have been had with US state commissions regarding how the full ONE product can make a transition to the country.