This article was written by Clyde Erwin Barretto, with final edits done by Angela Chang. Editor notes may be inserted throughout this article.
On August 26, 2022, ONE Championship had their debut on Amazon Prime Video. The event was also known as ONE on Prime Video 1. ONE Championship is one of the largest combat leagues and sports organizations in Asia and over the years has slowly been leaking over to the western front.
The event was held on August 26, 2022 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in City Kallang, Singapore. It was aired live in the United States and Canada through Amazon Prime Video.
Although their premiere was headlined by a MMA bout between former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and current ONE Championship flyweight champion Adriano Moraes, the rest of the card was filled with Muay Thai bouts in 4oz MMA gloves.
The co-main event was between living legends Nong-o Gaiyanghadao (Thailand) and Liam Harrison (UK). Gaiyanghadao earned his credentials by not only being the current ONE Championship bantamweight world champion, but had held prestigious Muay Thai titles from Rajadamnern Stadium and 3 times at Lumpinee Stadium. Harrison, from the United Kingdom had become a British and European kickboxing champion and over the years had earned a name for himself fighting in Thailand where he had won a Patong stadium title.
Preceding their bout, other Muay Thai bouts in 4oz MMA gloves included Panpayak Jitmuangnon (Thailand) vs. Savvas Michael (Cyprus) Superlek Kiatmoo9 (Thailand) vs. Walter Goncalves (Brazil) and Diandra Martin (Australia) vs. Amber Kitchen (UK).
There are many Muay Thai schools around the United States. But as a professional sport, it had never reached the kind of media celebrity that MMA and boxing has. Even newer combat sports such as bare knuckle boxing are starting to garner more media attention than both Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Kickboxing received some notice in the 70s and 80s through the Professional Karate Association. Their events with the likes of Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Joe Lewis and Benny “the Jet” Urquidez were shown on national television through ABC, ESPN and CBS Sports. Glory Kickboxing tried their hand in the 2010s with television deals through Spike TV and ESPN. Unfortunately, it never amassed the type of attention that could compete with the likes of the UFC and or boxing.
But on Friday night, the Muay Thai bouts delivered incredible action.
Diandra Martin vs. Amber Kitchen was a back and forth nonstop event where Martin took the unanimous decision win. Superlek Kiatmoo9, a former two-time Lumpinee champion delivered a devastating elbow to Walter Goncalves that landed him a KO win in the 1st round. Panpayak Jitmuangnon, a former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern champion, was a last minute replacement for Rodtang Jitmuangnon who was supposed to face Savvas Michael. Jitmuangnon’s skill and precision was on clear display as he was able to defeat Miachal via a destructive left high head kick KO in the 2nd round. Nong-o had defeated Harrison through a barrage of leg kicks that eventually led to a TKO win in the 1st round.
Kiatmoo9’s elbow KO and Jitmuangnon’s head kick made their rounds through social media. It was Muay Thai on beautiful display. It’s the type of striking that you rarely see on North American shores.
ONE and North American Networks
ONE Championship tried their foray into the North American market through their partnership with the cable channel TNT. The company held four events. Unfortunately, from the get-go their ratings fell flat. It was reported by Bloody Elbow that their debut, even with a strong lead-in from AEW, had 196, 000 viewers.
According to the website Business for Apps, Amazon Prime as of 2021 had 200 million subscribers with 147 million of those in the United States. Along with the subscription, a user also has access to Amazon Prime Video. In 2021, the video streaming service counted more than 175 million unique views.
While we don’t know how many views ONE on Prime 1 had, there is a lot of room to grow.
ONE Championship, compared to other large MMA organizations, has a distinct personality. They’re not just an MMA organization and promotion. They intertwine MMA with Muay Thai, kickboxing and BJJ. Unlike other big MMA promotions such as Bellator or the PFL, their production has a lot more vibrance that’s eye-catching and could potentially grab a lot of US combat sports fans. They deliver a different experience.
In addition to their identity, for the North American market, Amazon Prime Video can be delivered and marketed to at least 147 million subscribers. ONE Championship in 2020 attained some of the largest viewership and media engagement according to Nielsen. This puts them next to the likes of the UFC and the NFL.
They have a lot of accessible digital tools at their disposal. They have a streaming platform that can be accessed on a laptop, mobile app and or smart television. They have the ability to produce respectable engagement from fans around the globe through all of their digital platforms. There is no need for a television deal.
If founder Chatri Sityodtong and ONE Championship play their cards right, they can not only become a competitor in the North American market, but possibly put more Muay Thai fights and fighters to prominence.
Their next event, ONE on Prime 2 currently has a kickboxing co-main with Superbon Singha Mawynn defending his belt against Chingiz Allazov. This event is slated to occur September 30, 2022 and is expected to be headlined by Xiong Jing Nan defending her ONE strawweight belt against Angela Lee.