Singapore based promotion, ONE Championship held a global media conference call this morning, announcing their re-scheduled television debut on Turner Network Television (TNT) in the United States.
Originally scheduled for last year but sidetracked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ONE will be airing their very first live fight event on Wednesday, April 7th at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific— followed by additional events every Wednesday thereafter. The main card will be aired in its entirety during the two-hour broadcast. ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced the first three main events and one co-main event. The April 7th card features a much-anticipated title fight with ONE flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes (18-3), defending his title against #1 contender and American fighting legend, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson (30-3-1). Also on that card is a lightweight bout, featuring American Eddie Alvarez (30-7) vs. Iuri Lapicus (14-1)
Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, is considered by many (including myself) to currently be the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world (or at least one of the top P4P fighters) and possibly the Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T). He was the UFC flyweight champion. He held the title for six years, making eleven successful title defenses before losing a razor-close split decision to Henry Cejudo, who he had beaten two-years earlier. He is a perfect 3-0 since joining ONE Championship and is expected by many to become world champion again soon.
Eddie Alvarez, the man they call the ‘Underground King’, is a former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion — holding notable wins over Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler, and Anthony Pettis. He’s determined to get a shot at the ONE Championship lightweight title sometime soon, and if he wins he would be the only fighter to have held title belts in ONE, UFC, and Bellator.
The next event set for April 14th will be headlined by the super exciting young One lightweight champion Christian Lee (14-3) vs. Timofey Nastyukhin (13-4).
The April 21st card will see a middleweight #1 contender bout between former champion, Aung La Nsang (26-11) and Vitaly Bigdash (10-2). This will be the third match between these two great warriors, with Bigdash winning the first and Nsang winning the second— both taking place in 2017.
The weekly broadcast will air directly following the very popular AEW Wrestling broadcast. When asked, Sityodtong hinted that there may indeed be some cross over or at least cross-promoting between both organizations. He also mentioned that the very popular, ONE flyweight muay thai champion, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, is considering testing the waters in MMA, somewhere down the line, which would be very exciting to see.
For the big April 7th event, Demetrious Johnson and Adriano Moraes both conveyed respect for each other’s abilities, as did Eddie Alvarez and Iuri Lapicus. However, Lapicus stated that he plans to end Alvarez’s career by finishing him that night. Demetrious discussed the fact that ONE championship has strict hydration rules, so the flyweight division actually allows fighters to weigh up to 135-pounds, which would make it the bantamweight division in other promotions. As this is the lightest men’s weight class in One, he will be facing larger fighters which require even more energy and conditioning for him to be able to deal with them.
I asked Sityodtong if a city or venue has been selected or at least targeted for a future live event in the U.S, and he said it could possibly be Philadelphia, the hometown of Eddie Alvarez.
Alvarez then added a promise that it would be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. However nothing has been announced officially regarding that, so it may be a while before that takes place. In the meantime most events are taking place in Singapore, and while most Asian Countries have closed borders, Sityodtong informed us that ONE has the cooperation of the Singapore government, and they are providing green light VISA’s to outside fighters being brought in to compete at ONE events in Singapore.
Sityodtong concluded by mentioning that ONE has some of the very best fighters in the world and the fact that top fighters who had been successful in all other large MMA promotions have all experienced at least one defeat, with the exception of Demetrious Johnson. It will interesting to see if ONE can create a new fan base in the U.S now that we’ll be able to easily view their weekly events on our big flat-screen TV sets. I for one am looking forward to all the great action to come!