Considered as the frontrunner of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the Asian region, ONE Championship has become a staple of the growing local combat scene in the Philippines since its first venture on the country’s shores in 2012.
It has held nine of its last 52 events at locations such as the historic Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City and the state-of-the-art SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
When ONE Championship struck a lucrative broadcasting deal with ABS-CBN in 2016, it paved the way for the Asian brand of MMA to be viewed by millions of Filipinos on free television.
Company chairman Chatri Sityodtong revealed that the Philippines is one of ONE Championship’s primary destinations in its yearly multinational itinerary.
“The Philippines is one of our biggest markets because the fans in the country are just so passionate about mixed martial arts,” he said.
“The country is a very important market for us. I truly believe that ONE Championship can become mainstream where every single Filipino is enthralled with what ONE Championship has to offer,” Sityodtong added.
Sityodtong bared ONE Championship’s plans of extending its reach in the archipelago by staging an event outside Metro Manila.
“Our operations team has looked at various stadiums across the Philippines. We’ve scouted places that could meet our standards in terms of size and quality. I will not be surprised if in the future, we will see more events in the Philippines, not just Manila but in other cities,” he stated.
According to Sityodtong, one of ONE Championship’s target destinations outside Metro Manila is Cebu City.
“We’re looking at Cebu City as a possible future destination,” he quipped
Cebu City is no stranger to sporting events as it hosted numerous blockbuster boxing cards in the past.
Meanwhile, fans from Baguio City are clamoring for a ONE Championship event to be held in the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” as its hometown hero Eduard Folayang currently reigns as the ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Sityodtong is not closing the doors on the possibility of hosting a stacked card in Baguio City in the future.
“We are open to all options definitely. I don’t want make any announcement or prediction right now, but there is a possibility,” he stressed.
ONE Championship returns to the Philippines for the tenth time on 21 April, with Folayang defending the ONE Lightweight World Championship title for the first time against a yet-to-be-determined opponent in the main event.
“Eduard Folayang is going to defend the ONE Lightweight World Championship in his home country for the first time. I want the entire country, if you’re a Filipino or have a Pinoy heart, you’ve got to watch this fight,” Sityodtong invited.