Chatri Sityodtong: A Different Style Of Leadership

Global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been varied and the world of mixed martial arts has hardly been immune from the economic impacts of the virus. As a result, markedly different strategies are emerging across the globe in terms of fight promotions.

The stark difference between ONE Championship’s ethos and that of the UFC has been noted elsewhere; however, the contrast between the promotional priorities of ONE Championship’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong and that of UFC President Dana White is becoming clearer by the day.

Indeed, while UFC events are taking place at the speed of three live fight nights in eight days, ONE Championship has not held an event since February and postponed all fights scheduled in May. And whereas White has rallied hard with the State of Florida and US President Donald Trump to open back up for business and return to live events, Sityodtong has doubled down his efforts to secure investments, support, and security for ONE Championship in the midst of cancelled and postponed events.

In addition to a long list of high-profile sponsors (such as Red Bull and Hugo Boss) already secured, Sityodtong announced recently that his company has also made recent deals with a series of tech giants such as Intel, Logitech, and HP.

Speaking with CNBC earlier this month, Sityodtong reviewed his ethos of management in the times of the coronavirus pandemic (transcript courtesy of Sport Business)

“We believe that by harnessing the power and reach of our content stacks and platforms, brands can benefit from engaging with our millions of fans across the globe”, explained Sityodtong.

Sityodtong then went on to postulate how these tech companies might in turn assist ONE Championship in researching and developing new kinds of high-tech, closed-door events.

“We’re in the R&D lab, putting our minds together, being creative, thinking about how can we revolutionise the sports media industry with brand new products that had never seen before.

“There’s a lot of technology out there, AR and VR. You’re going to see a lot of creative things come out of ONE Championship.”

But the ONE CEO was clear that rather than rush to ‘open back up’ as the UFC has done in the USA, Sityodtong was clear that public health and safety was his first priority.

‘As much as I would like things to bounce back right away…what they see is this being at least 18 months of ebb and flows,” he speculated.

All in all, Sityodtong seemed optimistic about the prospects of a return back to something resembling ‘normal.’

“The good thing is there is definitely a finite end to this thing. In 12 to 18 months, we will have a vaccine, and testing is getting better and better so that’s the upside case.

“The most likely scenario case of 18 months of stabilisation and with periods of lockdowns and spikes and virus acceleration. But there’s a finite end to this.”

However the global pandemic plays out in the sport’s world, it seems clear that ONE Championship will hit the ground running with an impressive and quickly growing network of sponsors, tech support, and platform sharing, added to its roster.

What do you think of the contrast in leadership styles between Chatri Sityodtong and Dana White?


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