ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong pulled no punches when talking about the roster of strikers the promotion boasts. Following ONE Fight Night 14 last month, Sityodtong lauded its striking ranks, which includes multiple current and former world champions.
But, it wasn’t his message that caught attention. It was the way he delivered it.
Specifically, when the ONE co-founder called out the UFC’s level of striking.
“What you see in, let’s say the UFC, is very sloppy, mediocre-ish striking, because they’re not strikers. A typical UFC fighter is a D-1 college wrestler, 7-0 in the minor leagues. And, then, they do a little bit of striking. Then, they enter the UFC. At ONE, all these are world champions before they arrive, and they’re already [multiple-time] world champions at their peak of their career when they arrive. Anyone from an Anissa Meksen to a [Jonathan] DiBella, a Rodtang [Jitmuangnon], or Tawanchai [P.K. Saenchai], or Superbon [Singha Mawynn], or any of these legit killers,” Sityodtong said (h/t South China Morning Post).
So, the question to examine now is whether or not he is wrong.
Undoubtedly, wrestling has traditionally been the best base for MMA. But does that lead to less-than striking in the West’s biggest promotion? Does ONE have an advantage when it comes to the striking arts, because of the traditions in the region it’s based in?
No matter anyone’s personal opinion on Sityodtong’s comments, there is no denying ONE’s incredible striking roster across both kickboxing and Muay Thai. It is fact that the world’s largest martial arts organization hosts the most talent-rich lineup when it comes to those sports.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon has sparked interest in the United States, but he is far from the only star. Jonathan Haggerty, Superbon Singha Mawynn, Regian Eersel, Giorgio Petrosyan, and Chingiz Allazov are just a few of the many champions with superstar quality that grace the roster.
No other promotion comes close in that area.
Even famed UFC commentator Joe Rogan has been astonished by ONE’s Muay Thai offerings lately. He has used his platform to question why it isn’t a bigger sport and said it has the most untapped potential in The West.
While Muay Thai in four-ounce gloves continues to wow audiences, featherweight kickboxing has become a jewel in the crown of ONE’s striking showcases in recent years. The division isn’t merely stacked with talent. It is filled the brim with the pound-for-pound best strikers on the planet.
Every time fans get to see the ONE featherweight kickboxing championship contested, they are seeing two striking greats compete, which is a rarity. Petrosyan was the man atop that mountain until Superbon knocked him off in a shocking manner. Then, Allazov assumed the throne not long after – also in a way that left jaws on the floor.
And many more stars, like featherweight Muay Thai king Tawanchai PK Saenchai, are waiting in the wings to compete for the coveted crown.
Perhaps most impressive of all is the ease of transition that many of ONE’s elite strikers have achieved in MMA. Reigning ONE bantamweight MMA world champion Fabricio Andrade started his career in kickboxing, but moved into the all-encompassing sport when he joined ONE. He has dominated ever since.
Then there’s Stamp Fairtex, who once held both the ONE women’s atomweight Muay Thai and kickboxing titles simultaneously. She is now the atomweight MMA queen.
While Sityodtong’s comments have made headlines for how he described the quality of striking in the UFC, his larger point about ONE’s roster is fact. The pinnacle Muay Thai and kickboxing competitors is in ONE, and that’s exciting because it’s a one-stop shop for all major combat sport disciplines.
If Rogan is right that Muay Thai could explode in the United States, ONE will be at the forefront of that charge.
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