SINGAPORE: A purely muay thai fighter going up against a taekwondo exponent. A kyokushin karate practitioner going up against a lethwei expert.
These cross-discipline, stand-up fights are just some examples of the bouts that could take place in ONE Championship’s new Super Series later this year.
Chatri Sityodtong, the chief executive officer of Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, said that he's simply giving fight fans a bigger platter to choose from.
"If you think about the spectrum of martial arts, MMA is just a tiny part of it and it’s just one form. Now, as a fight fan, you can see all the other types of authentic martial arts as well on our platform," said Chatri.
In terms of scheduling, these Super Series bouts will for now be part of ONE's MMA fight cards.
“In the same way (a café) offers many different kinds of coffee and tea, we are offering all forms of martial arts,” said Chatri. “(As an analogy), our competitors are serving only black coffee by only doing boxing events. If you are a kickboxing league, you are only serving green tea in your store. If you’re an MMA league, you’re only serving mocha latte and nothing else.”
“As for us, we are (going to) combine all martial arts competitions in the ring and cage, at the highest level,” he added.
“So you’ll see matches of muay thai versus taekwondo, kung fu versus karate, and the list goes on within our ONE Super Series.”
DEBUTING IN APRIL
For a start, the Super Series’ strikes-only fights will debut at ONE: Heroes of Honor in Manila on Apr 20. There will be match-ups with muay thai-only rules, as well as ones with hybrid striking rules – bouts which could feature pugilists across traditional martial arts facing each other in combat.
Said Chatri: “Some matches will be under standard international kickboxing rules in our ring, and other matches will be under modified hybrid striking rules in our cage.
“This is a game-changer in the world of martial arts.”
The concept, though, is not new for ONE Championship who have somewhat experimented with grappling-only fights, as well as silat and lethwei bouts, at some of their shows in recent months.
It is believed that ONE’s Super Series will eventually be in separate shows than its MMA ones, when the fight promotion has signed a considerably larger roster of strike fighters.
Fighters who are currently part of ONE’s MMA roster can also choose to cross compete across the promotion’s various competitions.
“For the fighters, if you’re on the MMA roster right now, you can compete in the Super Series if you choose to do so,” said Chatri. “And likewise, if you’re on the Super Series and want to compete in MMA events, you can do so as well.”
Some of the fighters who have signed up for the Super Series include top muay thai talents such as multiple world champions Petchboonchu FA Group, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Yodsaenklai Fairtex.