Chatri Sityodtong
File photo of ONE chairman Chatri Sityodtong One Championship

It has been a phenomenal year for mixed martial arts. MMA has seen tremendous exposure globally over the past 12 months that it has become a household name. Alongside huge, billion-dollar sports industries like professional basketball or football, MMA has leapt into mainstream -- and it's all thanks to the hardworking people behind the world's fastest growing sport.

With the demise of professional boxing came the rise of MMA. People have consumed combat sports content for decades, and while MMA has been around since ancient Greece, it wasn't until just recently that the sport has become one of the most watched in the entire world.

In Asia particularly, the sport has seen a phenomenal increase in viewership over the last three years alone. This is due to incredible work by ONE Championship -- Asia's most prolific MMA promotion -- and their tireless efforts to bring the sport to each and every household in the region.

Also read: One Championship 2017 full schedule

Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman of ONE, is the man behind the promotion's success. In 2011, Sityodtong envisioned the whole of Asia united under a single sport, and since he himself trained and even previously competed in martial arts, MMA offered a unique opportunity.

Sityodtong believes that Asia has deep roots in MMA, and that the potential for the sport on this side of the world is boundless.

"I think the future is very very bright for ONE Championship. And that's our business model. Getting, finding local heroes who can ignite the entire country on a global stage," Chatri said.

"Asia's been the home of martial arts of the last 5,000 years. There is a true Asian value system to martial arts: integrity, honour, discipline, humility, courage, these are things that Asians really care about."

ONE Championship came from being a promising upstart in 2011, to today a billion-dollar company with an audience reach of over a billion viewers in 118 countries worldwide.

This past year, Sityodtong has told the tale of ONE's success at various high-profile conferences and summits. He has been invited to speak at the Milken Asia Summit, Bloomberg, and has gotten global media attention from major media outlets like Time, CNN, BBC, NYT and The Economist.

Just recently, Sityodtong made an appearance at the CNBC ABLA Dinner and the Forbes Global CEO Conference -- the first time in history that MMA has seen a representative stand alongside the global bigwigs of business.

Sityodtong touched on the subject of "Building Brand Power", speaking on equal terms with big names like His Excellency Indonesian President Joko Widodo, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Forbes Chairman Steve Forbes, Grab CEO Anthony Tan, InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Richard Solomons, and many other global leaders at one of the world's most important business conferences.

ONE Championship held a series of blockbuster events in 2016, delighting MMA fans in key cities like Manila, Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It held live shows for the first time ever in Bangkok and Macau.

It's been an unmistakably successful year for ONE, and Sityodtong plans to continue the trend. With the announcement of its 2017 lineup, ONE is poised to have an even better following year.

Over the next 12 months, ONE is expected to launch a serious campaign into mainland China, in addition to its loyal markets as well as to tap into new markets Vietnam, South Korea and Japan.

As ONE maintains its grasp on the region, Sityodtong continues to be the man in charge of the growth of MMA. As it stands, Sityodtong was recently named "The Most Powerful Man in Asian MMA" by a leading online sports portal and one of the most influential sports figures globally.

As the UFC has experienced a recent retreat in Asia, ONE Championship has taken center stage.

The secret, Sityodtong says, is in finding local homegrown Asian martial arts heroes that fans can rally behind.

"I think the future is very very bright for ONE Championship. And that's our business model. Getting, finding local heroes who can ignite the entire country on a global stage," Chatri said.