At Sunday’s Pancrase 297 the interwebs were chattering away about the destruction of Kume and a Brazilian King on the shores of Japan.
There was also chatter of a different kind.
During the battle between hotrod Yuya Wakamatsu and the respected Mamoru, the camera panned to those in attendance at cageside, namely ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong and kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa, who were sitting together. The speculation began.
Then Wakamatsu obliterated the legendary flyweight and in his victory speech said: “ONE Championship looks interesting.” Twitter crescendoed. Wakamatsu and his coach Ryo Chonan – defacto power broker for ONE – descended from the cage and Sityodtong greeted them with congratulations. Twitter imploded.
With a spate of recent signings of Japanese fighters by One, including an exclusive contracting of kick legend Andy Souwer which removed him from Rizin, reporters at the Pancrase event were scrambling for live interviews with Chatri.
Esteemed GONG has published this morning, and Chatri confirmed that ONE Championship is going to Tokyo in 2019, and the first show is expected to be on 30 March. There will be two Japan shows in 2019 and he would gradually increase it. “I’d like like to hold six events in a year.”
I’d like like to hold six events in a year.
With the partnership of Japan’s heavyweight marketing and events company Dentsu and their advice, the promotion will be able to secure a stadium (10-20,000). There are 18 Japanese athletes on the roster already and in preparation ONE will be placing at least two on every card for the lead up to Tokyo.
Also, ONE Championship is in collaboration with an MMA show airing its second season on AbemaTV, Fighting Agent War (tr: 格闘代理戦争), which will further the awareness of the promotion in Japan.
When asked about the ring or cage format, Sityodtong told GONG that the first event would take place inside a cage.
“For the first Japanese event, I’m thinking about the cage,” he said, adding that the event would be a mix of MMA, kickboxing and Muay Thai rules bouts.
Currently, ONE Championship is on an historic run of holding four events back-to-back weekly, starting in Macau on 23 June and completing with Kuala Lumpur on 13 July. Sityodtong revealed to GONG that ONE plans to host 36 events in 2019, which would support more events in Japan. Cities forecast are Tokyo, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Beijing, Shanghai and of course the promotion’s home country of Singapore.
ONE Championship recently picked up Ken Hasegawa, who engaged in contender for fight of the year with Champion Aung La Nsang, Kazuki Tokudome, Shuya Kamikobu, and Tatsumitsu Wada. They join other Japanese fighters in One including Shinya Aoki, Champ Yoshitaka Naito, V.V Mei, Boku, Shibuya Rick, and Koji Ando.