Four Cities That Could Host ONE Championship's First U.S. Event

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"We are living through the most extraordinary of times" -- One Championship chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong
"We are living through the most extraordinary of times" -- One Championship chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong

After establishing its roots in Asia for nearly a decade and amassing a dedicated fan base of millions across the region, ONE Championship has its sights set on a United States expansion.

ONE Championship has slowly but surely built up a tangible presence in the United States.

This past April, Turner Entertainment Networks aired four of the promotion’s blockbuster shows on U.S. prime time via TNT and B/R Live.

In addition, the promotion has been teasing a live event on American soil for some time now.

Whenever that comes to fruition, it’s sure to be ONE Championship’s biggest event to date.

With that in mind, here are four cities that could host the organization’s first event in the United States.

Las Vegas

Where better to host a live martial arts extravaganza than the fight capital of the world? The glitz and glamor of Las Vegas is second to none.

Whether it’s Conor McGregor coming to town or boxing legends like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather headlining multimillion-dollar pay-per-view events, Las Vegas is the king of combat sports.

In terms of the venue, MGM Grand Garden Arena, T-Mobile Arena, Mandalay Bay Event Center, Thomas & Mack Center, and more are all possibilities.

Imagine ONE Championship’s biggest stars such as Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Angela Lee and Christian Lee headlining an event on the Las Vegas Strip with massive billboards and posters on every corner. That would be a sight to behold.

Honolulu

Hawaii is one of the most underrated mixed martial arts (MMA) hotspots in the world. The island’s fight culture is rabid, and the community has produced some incredible talents throughout history.

Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, ONE Championship titleholders Angela and Christian Lee, and MMA legend BJ Penn all hail from the Aloha state.

While the Aloha Stadium is closing its doors for good, the $14-million, 9,000-capacity Blaisdell Arena is certainly a potential venue.

None of the major MMA organizations in the world have held an event in Hawaii, despite it being one of the most beautiful travel destinations on the planet.

ONE Championship becoming the first to host an event in Honolulu would be enormous.

Logistics would no doubt be easier as Honolulu is only a 15-hour flight from Singapore and just under an eight-hour flight from Tokyo.

Moreover, there are big Asian-American communities in Hawaii because of its close proximity to Asia.


Eduard Folayang_Shinya Aoki_One Championship
Philippines MMA fighter Eduard Folayang (red trunks) tries to land a knee against Japanese wrestler Shinya Aoki (white trunks) during a world title fight for Asian MMA promotion ONE Championship.
Photo: ONE Championship

Philadelphia

Philadelphia is an old-school boxing city.

Legends Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins both hailed from Philly, which also produced Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa and MMA veteran Eddie Alvarez.

Philadelphia is the sixth-most populous city in the United States and the second-most populous city in the Northeastern United States, sitting just behind New York City.

More importantly, it’s a fight-crazed locale that’s primed for world-class martial arts action.

Alvarez, a former UFC lightweight champion and a ONE Championship athlete since 2018, has long clamored for his current promotion to host an event in Philly.

There’s no doubt that Alvarez would also love to headline the show, which is a tantalizing proposition.

Possible sites in the city include Wells Fargo Center, which hosts the Philadelphia 76ers, and outdoor venues like Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.

Jacksonville

As COVID-19 restrictions started to relax and borders reopened, Florida was one of the first states to allow live events.

Most recently, UFC 261--which was held in Jacksonville during April--took place before a sellout crowd of 15,000.

It was the first UFC live event with fans in attendance since the pandemic ravaged the world.

If ONE Championship heads to Florida, it would likely want to hold its first U.S. event in the same venue–Jacksonville Arena.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reopened the state in late 2020, allowing massive live sporting events and concerts. Face masks weren’t even mandated; only encouraged.

This means the logistics in putting together a ONE Championship show–which includes flying out its star fighters, officials, staff, and crew, a majority of which are from Asia–would be much easier compared to other potential locations.

Furthermore, some of ONE Championship’s biggest U.S.-based talents, including former heavyweight champion Brandon Vera and a pair of former two-division champions in Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen, all train at Sanford MMA in South Florida.

Plus, reigning flyweight champion Adriano Moraes--the man who knocked out Demetrious Johnson--trains a couple of minutes away at American Top Team in Coconut Creek.

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