ONE Championship’s Chatri Sityodtong Addresses COVID Protocols, Atomweight Grand Prix

Chatri Sityodtong, ONE Championship
Chatri Sityodtong Credit: ONE Championship

ONE Championship will be in its own backyard of Singapore this week, for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic. While it has held shows in both China and Thailand previously during the slow march of SARS-CoV-2, the Singapore show, Reign of Dynasties, appears to herald the return of larges events from the Asian MMA promotion.

Speaking on a media call Monday (Tuesday Singapore time), ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong explained some of the protocols that have been put in place to ensure a safe event, even without fans present. If you’ve been paying attention to either the UFC or Bellator, said protocols should sound familiar.

“It’s super granular. Everything from pre-flight tests before they embark from their destination country, tests when they arrive, tests throughout the week,” Sityodtong explained. “We’ve created a bubble with the hotel and transportation from the airport. We’ve secured every floor so that protocol is maintained and athletes remain in their rooms at all times.”

“There’s very strict protocol that we’ve implemented, and then obviously post-event as well,” Sityodtong added. “There will be more testing done before athletes are sent back home.”

Sityodtong noted during the Reign of Dynasties media call that he’s not expecting fans back in arenas worldwide possibly for 12 months. Which means the atomweight grand prix, announced in the wake of Angela Lee’s pregnancy, will likely be met by silence. At least in the building.

“I anticipate the atomweight grand prix to start in January. Just in time, the winner of the grand prix will then face Angela Lee when she returns,” Sityodtong confirmed. Lee, who is ONE’s first and only atomweight champ to date, is expected to give birth to her first child in April.

Sityodtong also outlined the lessons the company learned during the pandemic on Monday. “We really focused on, what could we do online, what could we do digitally?” That included e-Sports, an area ONE has begun to branch out into. There’s also a version of The Apprentice, made famous by Donald Trump, expected to involve Sityodtong and other notable names from ONE Championship.

“I think this is something that COVID has brought out in us. I told my team, when we had a company meeting at the very beginning of the pandemic, the keys to success in this environment are two-fold,” Sityodtong continued. “One is creativity, because we’re going to be faced with problems that we’ve never seen before, so we have to be even more creative about solutions and products that we launch. And then resilience. We’re going to get more rejections and failures and obstacles and setbacks and mistakes than ever before.”

You can listen to the full ONE: Reign of Dynasties media call with Chatri Sityodtong below.