With the recent debut of One Championship in the United States, I took the opportunity to compare this martial arts promotion with the well-established UFC. As a fan of both promotions and martial arts in general, I wanted to gauge the pulse of the overall fan base and explore their preferences. In this blog post, we'll delve into various aspects, including the economics, reach, viewership, event formats, fighter branding, fan reception, and marketing strategies of both organizations.
Economics & Reach
In terms of market capitalization, One Championship currently has a $1.4 billion cap, while the UFC boasts a $10 billion cap. Both companies are highly profitable, with their revenue stemming from broadcast deals and distribution. One Championship has a distribution network spanning over 150 countries, while the UFC reaches more than 165 countries. Although both promotions have a substantial international presence, the UFC's market value currently surpasses that of One Championship.
Event Formats & Diversity
The UFC focuses on MMA-exclusive events, although they have recently started incorporating kickboxing and grappling events through their streaming app, UFC Fight Pass. One Championship, on the other hand, began as an MMA promotion but has since shifted to become the home of martial arts. They feature fights in multiple disciplines, including MMA, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and grappling. One Championship's events often include special event series like the One Super Series, where they crown champions in various weight classes for kickboxing and Muay Thai. They also host the "One Friday Fights" or "One Lumpini" fight cards featuring MMA and Muay Thai fights streamed for free on YouTube. This diversity in event formats appeals to fans who enjoy different fighting styles and prevents monotony.
Athlete Branding and Fan Engagement
The UFC heavily emphasizes fighter branding, often promoting brash and outspoken athletes who generate excitement through their trash talk and bravado. In contrast, One Championship creates stars who embody martial arts values and presents them as role models. One Championship's CEO, Chatri Sityodtong, aims to promote integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion in martial arts. Their marketing approach focuses on making their athletes relatable and likeable through social media, showcasing their lives and personalities. This approach has helped them build a strong fan base, even before fans see the athletes compete in the cage.
Fan Reception & Market Potential
During One Championship's U.S. debut, it was interesting to observe the audience's reaction. While lesser-known foreign competitors received less support, international stars like Stamp and Rodtang were cheered the loudest. This suggests that fans appreciate athletes based on their skills and who they are rather than their country of origin. One Championship's Asian fighters have gained massive popularity in the U.S. through social media and online exposure. Western audiences have shown an openness to admire humble and respectful martial artists, challenging the notion that conflict and trash talk are necessary for fan engagement.
Mission Statements & Marketing Strategies
The UFC's initial mission was to promote MMA and evolve it into a major world sport. They focused on legalizing the sport in all 50 states and expanding to as many countries as possible. One Championship aims to be the home for martial arts entertainment and promotes values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion in martial arts. One Championship markets itself as a platform for various martial arts styles.
In conclusion, the recent U.S debut of ONE Championship has sparked a comparison between the leading MMA promotion, UFC, and the rising martial arts promotion, ONE Championship. While UFC holds a higher market cap and is more widely recognized in the West, ONE Championship is making significant strides in terms of global reach and digital viewership.
The economic aspect reveals that UFC has a substantial lead with a market cap of $10 billion compared to ONE Championship's $1.4 billion. However, ONE Championship's distribution spans over 150 countries, only slightly behind UFC's reach of 165 countries. ONE Championship's digital viewership has been consistently growing, ranking second overall in 2021 with over 13.8 billion video views across various platforms.
Both promotions offer distinct entertainment experiences. UFC focuses primarily on MMA fights, although it has started featuring kickboxing and grappling events on its streaming app, UFC Fight Pass. In contrast, ONE Championship has positioned itself as the home of martial arts, hosting fights in multiple disciplines and adding grappling matches to their main cards. The promotion's diversity and inclusion of different fighting styles cater to a broader audience.
The fan response at the events demonstrates the potential appeal of ONE Championship's approach. International stars from ONE Championship received a warm reception from the U.S audience, highlighting their popularity and reach. The promotion's emphasis on humility, respect, and positive role models resonates with fans who appreciate martial arts as a whole, rather than solely focusing on conflict and trash talk.
ONE Championship's marketing strategy is centered around building brand awareness and showcasing the diverse world of martial arts. They have successfully utilized social media platforms and free online content to engage with fans and generate interest in their events. The recent partnership with Amazon Prime and the successful U.S debut further solidify their position as a rising force in the industry.
While UFC remains synonymous with MMA, ONE Championship's emphasis on martial arts and its commitment to integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion sets it apart. They aim to be the first multi-billion dollar pan-Asian sports media property and promote the values that they believe Western MMA promotions have lost.
In the end, the comparison between UFC and ONE Championship highlights the evolving landscape of martial arts promotions. While UFC dominates the market in terms of recognition and market cap, ONE Championship's unique approach, global reach, and focus on martial arts diversity have gained traction among fans. The success of both promotions ultimately lies in their ability to captivate audiences and deliver high-quality entertainment that appeals to a wide range of martial arts enthusiasts.
I'm Krufessor Rad, the proud owner and lead instructor at Rad Muay Thai & BJJ Fitness Center, located in Aurora, Colorado. My passion lies in empowering individuals through training in what I like to call Martial Athletics. By combining functional strength training and conditioning, I enhance my martial arts skills, while also utilizing martial arts to complement my strength and conditioning regimen. My ultimate goal is to cultivate well-rounded Martial Athletes who transcend boundaries and reach new levels of personal growth and excellence.