Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was represented for the first time ever at the Forbes Global CEO Conference. One Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong emerged as its sole representative on 29 November in Jakarta, Indonesia.
MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the entire world. Thanks to leaders like Sityodtong, the industry is experiencing a tremendous boost in global viewership. In Asia in particular, where the 45-year-old entrepreneur has chosen to base ONE Championship, business is booming.
Finally, after 16 years of existence, MMA got a voice in the form of the Thailand entrepreneur. The annual event, in its 16th iteration, features a conglomeration of over 400 global CEOs, business leaders, entrepreneurs, up-and-comers, capitalists and thought leaders.
Just a few years ago, MMA in Asia was a relatively niche sport with a strong following. There have always been local martial arts communities generating interest in the sport but nothing that really took it to the next level, until ONE Championship came along.
Because of Sityodtong's work with ONE, MMA in Asia is no longer running paces behind the pack -- it is revolutionizing sports entertainment in the region with fresh marketing initiatives and a robust digital platform.
Sityodtong took to the stage to share his views about ONE Championship's tremendous growth over the last five years, how the team was able to take ONE from its humble beginnings and turn it into the largest sports media property in Asian history with a global broadcast of a potential one billion viewers in over 118 countries worldwide.
He also touched on the subject of how there is a global duopoly between the UFC -- the biggest MMA promotion in the west and ONE which is the biggest in the east.
ONE Championship is widely recognized as one of the largest MMA promotions in the world and its popularity has led to a handful of key partnerships with brands like Disney, Marvel, G-Shock, Under Armour, and UMG.
The Forbes Global CEO Conference was an invite-only, exclusive two-day event where CEOs from all over the world and from various global brands and international organizations are brought in to share their experiences in the past year, including the toughest obstacles and how they overcame them.
Sityodtong was joined by leaders in different fields such as AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Richard Solomons, and his excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, among others.
MMA's inclusion in this round of the conference is a milestone for the sport and is a testament to its rapid success over the past few years.
Sityodtong also opened up on various subjects including "Building Brand Power", something that he has experienced immense success with ONE.
ONE's strategy in Asia is to build local, homegrown Asian martial arts heroes that resonates with local audiences. The result has been phenomenal as far as public reception goes, and has opened the company up to many financial partnership opportunities and sponsorships.
Its appearance at the Forbes Global CEO Conference is but the first of many in the years to come. In 2016, ONE Championship had a phenomenal year in terms of growth and viewership. 2017 promises to be even more comprehensive with at least 20 shows lined up across 12 months. With Sityodtong spearheading the growth of the sport, the future appears bright for global MMA.