Chatri Sityodtong is the CEO / Owner of Evolve MMA and was one of around 200 participants at the ONE Asia MMA Summit which concluded earlier today. Promoters, camp owners, sponsors and media partners from all over the continent gathered at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore for the two day summit.
One of the most interesting speakers was Chatri, an entrepeneur and self made millionaire who is also the man behind Evolve MMA, which was only founded three years ago but has already established a reputation as being the top training facility in Asia.
The majority of the Evolve MMA fight team are signed with ONE Fighting Championship, who organized the summit and paid for everyone in attendance to stay at the S$8 billion Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Chatri is also currently busy heading up Rich Franklin's training camp alongside Heath Sims and he spoke about the significance of the ONE Asia MMA Summit and the recently arranged rematch between Franklin and Silva...
What for you was the significance of the One FC summit?
I think we will know the answer when we look back five years from now. It was incredible to see 150+ leaders of Asian MMA together in a room, discussing how we can work together to shape the future of the Asian MMA industry under ONE Fighting Championship. For sure, it is new era for Asian MMA led by ONE FC.
How do you think the summit is going to benefit Evolve MMA?
Of course, the obvious benefits are the increased media and PR exposure that Evolve MMA has received as an active member of the ONE FC Network. ONE FC and ESPN StarSports have a 10 year deal together to show events across 28 countries with a potential 500m viewers. The increased media exposure has resulted in sponsorship opportunities for Evolve MMA, and we are in the middle of negotiations as I speak.
Business at Evolve MMA has also been positively impacted from the ESPN StarSports broadcast and MediaCorp broadcast in terms of number of new students, etc. The ONE FC Network has also resulted in more opportunities to compete for the Evolve Fight Team.
How unusual is it in your extensive experience of business to get so many people from such a diversity of countries co-operating together?
The ONE Asia Summit was the largest Asian MMA summit in history. It is incredible to see 150+ of the most influential powerbrokers in Asian MMA working together under ONE Fighting Championship. The biggest promotions, the top MMA gyms, the top managers, the biggest sponsors/advertisers, government officials, broadcasters and many others are dedicated to helping ONE FC succeed. And this summit has created new revenue opportunities and new cost saving opportunities for everyone.
Brian Choi already fought for Road FC, are your fighters likely to feature on more promotions in the One FC network in the future?
Yes, of course. The ONE FC Network is already very active and all of us in the network are committed to helping each other out.
How do you see the current state of MMA in Asia and what do you think the future holds?
Asian MMA is at the very beginning of a new era. We are going to see astronomical growth over the next 5-10 years and if we all work together, I truly believe that Asian MMA has the potential to become a $10 billion or $20 billion industry in the future. ONE FC has the biggest sports media deal in Asian history with ESPN StarSports with a 10 year broadcast to over 500m viewers across 28 countries. The ONE FC Network has 150 of the best and brightest minds from the biggest organizations in Asian MMA working in unison. If you look at ONE FC by the numbers, it is the largest promotion in Asia by a very large margin.
How happy are you to have some of the top fighters from the US, such as Ben Askren and Rich Franklin, coming to train with you and was challenging the dominance of North America camps something you set out to do when you founded Evolve MMA?
"Not really. Martial arts has been my greatest passion in life for as long as I can remember and I've been involved in Muay Thai as a student, fighter, teacher, and coach for almost 25 years. I've been doing BJJ for around five years. Since the beginning of Evolve MMA my goal has always been to provide the best martial arts instruction available anywhere on the planet. Evolve MMA stands behind our reputation as the best academy in Asia. It is not an accident that we have world champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, MMA, No-Gi Grappling, and Wrestling.
Did Franklin have any hesitation in accepting the fight with Wanderlei Silva and how has the change of date affected his preparation?
No, Rich is a true warrior. He is willing to fight anyone, anywhere. Of course, it has shortened the ideal length for training camp but Rich was already well ahead of schedule in terms of speed, power, strength, cardio, timing, etc. It's not ideal, but it is not that big of a deal. Now it is just a matter of ramping up his cardio aggressively in the next two weeks to get into peak physical condition.
How different a challenge do you think fighting Wanderlei Silva will be to fighting Cung Le?
It's a completely different fight in some ways since they have totally different styles of striking. However, Rich is prepared. We have an excellent game plan and Rich has put in a great camp. Rich is one of those fighters that trains unbelievably hard. He doesn't cut corners. He's a true professional. Rich comes early to practice and is the last one to leave. He learns everything very quickly and has adapted very quickly to the training camp setup here at Evolve MMA.
Why did Franklin decide to base a training camp outside of the US for the first time?
Rich is a big believer in surrounding himself with the best and he feels at home here at Evolve MMA, Rich and I get along very well. We'd be good friends even if we didn't do martial arts.The thing about Rich is that he is such a positive influence on our young fighters and he is a great human being. I can't say enough about what a great guy and tough warrior he is.
That fight is scheduled for the same night as One FC's show in KL, were you originally planning on traveling to both and if so which one are you planning on attending now?
Unfortunately, I won't be able to fly to Brazil for Rich's fight since ONE FC falls on the same day...and the Evolve Fight Team is sending three fighters to do battle and I will be cornering them.