ONE Championship continues to get creative.
The promotion announced yesterday (Weds., Jan. 11, 2022) at the ONE on Prime Video 6 pre-fight press conference that it will be hosting a $1 million Openweight Muay Thai grand prix tournament in 2023. The tournament is expected to launch in March 2023. and will feature 13 fighters ranging from any weight immaginable.
“You’re going to see big guys and small guys,” ONE Founder and President, Chatri Sityodtong, said at the presser.
“You’re going to see some really wacky stuff. Openweight is Openweight,” he later told South China Morning Post. “The grand prix is only for ONE fighters but we’re always constantly signing athletes, several we haven’t announced. I want to hear from the fans. It will kick off in March. This will be the biggest grand prix in the history of Muay Thai. It’s very fascinating.”
According to South China Morning Post, a big name that isn’t currently a part of the ONE roster interested in participating is one-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title challenger, Alistair Overeem. The “Demolition Man” has gone back to the striking-exclusive arts since his UFC departure in 2021.
A former Glory Kickboxing champion, Overeem, 42, defeated Badr Hari via a unanimous decision in Oct. 2022 (watch highlights). It was his first kickboxing match in 12 years. Overeem has never competed in professional Muay Thai, but something as unique as an Openweight tournament would be quite the place to start.
Outside of Light Heavyweight and the division’s Muay Thai champion, Reigen Eersel, there’s no telling what other “larger” competitors could enter the tournament. Regardless, it should be a sight to behold as any Openweight battle generally is.