RIZIN president slams ONE Championship’s ‘fund-based’ survival scheme: ‘It’s like being on life support’

RIZIN president slams ONE Championship's 'fund-based' survival scheme: 'It's like being on life support'

It’s safe to say that there is no love lost between RIZIN President Nobuyuki Sakakibara and ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

During a recent episode of RIZIN CONFESSIONS on YouTube, Sakakibara, who has ties to both PRIDE FC and K-1, recently spoke about the promotion’s move into South Korea. During his comments, Sakakibara insisted that Asian-based combat sports organizations should “bring the heat to Asia” before attempting to branch out into other markets.

It was a clear dig at one of RIZIN’s biggest rivals in Asia, ONE Championship, but Sakakibara didn’t stop there. He went for the jugular, calling out ONE’s sketchy “fund-based scheme” for survival, likening it to being on life support.

“There are many casinos getting built in Incheon and they just finished building an arena that holds 15,000,” Sakakibara said. “Bring the heat to Asia first. ONE struggled in Qatar. As far as we know, they’ve been burning a lot of cash and have running for the past 10 years. They’ve burnt hundreds of millions of dollars. We have a different approach. We’re not operating off a fund-based scheme. It’s like being on life support and once the pipe is detached, you can’t live on your own.

“From this point on, RIZIN will continue to promote events that will provide the emotional rollercoasters. Delivering events like that will eventually result in a sustainable business.”


At one point during the conversation, the interviewer asks Sakakibara about ONE Championship’s mission statement to promote the “values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion,” suggesting that it sounds like something out of a “kid’s comic book.”

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Sakakibara chuckles before saying: “Nobody got the message they wanted to say.”

Jump to the 13-minute mark of the below embed to see Sakakibara’s comments about ONE Championship.

RIZIN president President Nobuyuki and ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong have a long history of trading verbal jabs

It’s certainly not the first time that Sakakibara and Sityodtong have taken digs at one another in the media. During a press event last year, Sityodtong made his feelings on K-1 very clear.

“Honestly like… It’s a tiny organization, and the level is very low. I mean, the level of striking is very low.” Sityodtong said. “That’s all I’m going to say. That’s why Takeru [Segawa], the best striker in K-1 wants to leave and come to here. If you’re an expert striker, you understand what I’m talking about. The level is very low.”

Sityodtong’s comments about K-1 and kickboxing in general drew a response from Sakakibara during an interview with MMA Mania’s Drake Riggs.

“I honestly think them as promoters talking about a sport like that,” Sakakibara I don’t appreciate them talking like that. I think that’s an issue on their personal level because kickboxing is an amazing sport. It’s a fun sport. And, as a promoter, if you cannot promote that sport, you shouldn’t be doing it. I think there are a lot of great ways to promote a kickboxing fight. Kickboxing is interesting, it’s an entertaining sport.

“If you feel like it’s not happening, it’s a promoter’s fault that’s not doing their job. They’re not picking up the right points, they’re not promoting it right. So, I think, as a promoter, they shouldn’t be saying that to specific sports. If they’ve tried, and if they can’t do it, it’s up to them, and it’s their fault. We know how to promote interesting fights, and we make it interesting.”

ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong

ONE Championship made its promotional debut in Qatar on March 1. While the event was successful from a fan perspective, delivering some exciting action, including the crowning of MMA’s first simultaneous three-division world champion.

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Anatoly Malykhin

Whether or not the event was a financial success is uncertain.

ONE is scheduled to return to the United States for a loaded lineup in The Mile High City — Denver, Colorado, on Friday, September 6. The promotion has already announced four massive matchups, including three champion vs. champion matches.

Reigning atomweight MMA queen Stamp Fairtex will challenge the defending ONE strawweight MMA world champion Xiong Jing Nan. Two-sport king Jonathan Haggerty puts his bantamweight Muay Thai title on the line against Thai superstar Superlek, and BJJ icon Mikey Musumeci moves up three weight classes to challenge Kade Ruotolo for the ONE lightweight submission grappling world championship.

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British fan favorite Liam Harrison will also return to take on 201-win veteran Seksan Or Kwanmuang.

ONE 168