Asian promotions signal intent to return when already allowed

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By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

CURRENTLY sidelined by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Asian mixed martial arts promotions ONE Championship and Brave Combat Federation said they are raring to get back into action and intent on going for it when given the go-ahead.

In separate releases shared to the media recently, ONE and Brave said they have been positioning their operations for a possible return from the COVID-19-induced break although still mindful of having safety as primary consideration.

For Asia’s largest sports media property ONE it would be a “very measured approach” in making its way back.

It last played a live event on Feb. 28 in Singapore — “ONE: King of the Jungle” — which was held behind closed doors as a precautionary measure against the potential spread of the highly contagious COVID-19.

“At ONE Championship, we have the same level of intensity, but I would say we are a little more prudent, because safety is our highest priority,” ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said.

“We are not in a rush to come back just for the sake of coming back due to our financial commitments to broadcasters and brands and whatnot. We want to come back to an environment where we are sure that we can do it safely for all parties involved,” he added.

Apart from the safety concerns, the ONE chief said they want to do it in full cooperation with the different governments of places they stage their live events at, and in full recognition of a particular country’s health and safety protocols.

“Different governments have different policies on their borders, as well as their lockdown policies, so that’s been a little bit tricky in getting everything up and running. But my team and I have been working on it nonstop, and we feel pretty good about it,” said Mr. Sityodtong.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based ONE also shared while on a forced break it managed to shore up its war chest, adding $70 million to bring its total capital to $346 million.

“I am thrilled to announce that ONE Championship closed another round of funding a few weeks ago with existing institutional investors as well as a new institutional investor. I am full of gratitude for this strong vote of confidence amidst the worst global economic crisis in 100 years,” said Hua Fung Teh, Group President of ONE Championship.

He, however, did not give further details.

ONE also announced that because of COVID-19 it had to make the tough decision of streamlining its operations, including reducing its worldwide headcount by 20%.

BRAVE CF
Bahrain-based Brave, for its part, is also positioning for a possible return to hosting events.

In a statement, Mohammed Shahid, President of Brave, said recommencing staging live events, built around the safety of all stakeholders, is on top of their push after months of inactivity.

“Brave CF looks forward to recommencing events and safety of our team, fighters and crew is paramount. As well as adhering to existing health guidelines, we are implementing the biggest and strongest COVID policy in sports as of yet and we have taken extra safety measures to ensure our team is protected against the spread of coronavirus,” said Mr. Shahid.

Adding, “I’m very delighted to have Brave CF events back and I have full confidence in the Brave CF team to successfully run our upcoming events safely and smoothly.”

Founded in 2016, Brave has staged nearly 40 events in different parts of the world, including its first-ever in the Philippines in 2019.

Meanwhile, Brave world bantamweight champion Stephen “The Sniper” Loman of the Philippines is ready to go and battle once called up.

“I have been able to train constantly throughout the lockdown period. I do cardio and technique training every day and I’m ready to fight and defend my title once again,” said Team Lakay’s Loman (13-2).

Mr. Loman is riding an eight-fight winning streak, the latest coming in November last year over Canadian challenger Ilias Sanoudakis by unanimous decision.

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