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One Championship founder outlines growth plans

Asian mixed martial arts promotion the One Championship will seek to almost triple the number of events it stages per year, according to founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Chatri said an event held every week in Asia was the ultimate goal of the series. One’s 2017 calendar is made up of 18 events with new dates announced for Vietnam and Shanghai and further events planned across Asia as it looks to expand into new markets.

The series last month confirmed plans to add more dates in other Chinese cities, including Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, as well as Vietnam, Japan and South Korea. Returning hosts for 2017 include Jakarta (Indonesia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Manila (Philippines), Bangkok (Thailand), Yangon (Myanmar), Singapore and Macau.

“Over the years you will see us expand,” Chatri said. “My ultimate vision is 52 events, one every week, and a different venue each time, in the biggest cities, including Tokyo and Seoul. I would rather go carefully and steadily but it's always good to have a vision to aim for.”

An increase in events will necessitate a rise in the number of fighters on the One roster, with officials planning to broaden the number of women’s events to meet this target. An upcoming promotion in Bangkok on March 11 will be headlined by the women's atom weight title fight between Angela Lee and Jenny Huang.

Chatri said having a women's fight, with two foreign contestants, as the headline act despite Thailand having a number of local fighters on the card, was part of One’s strategy. “Having local headliners makes a lot of sense and drives TV ratings of course,” Chatri said. “But we want to mix that with having the global superstars.”