Chatri Sityodtong, One Championship Looking at 2020 US Debut, reviewing fights

Chatri Sityodtong, ONE Championship CEO

Is Removing The Ability of Reviewing Fights Good Or Bad For ONE Championship?

Earlier in the month, ONE Championship announced that the promotion will not be reviewing decisions and overturning fights as they’ve done in the past. The decision comes on the heels of a controversial decision at the first ONE event of the year, Heavy Hitters. There, Supergirl and Ekaterina Vandaryeva fought a close fight that Supergirl received the split decision nod for. ONE President, Chatri Sityodtong stated that he believed Vandaryeva won the fight. Is the decision to not continue reviewing fights as a promotion good for the sport or not? I’d argue good. Let’s explore why.

ONE Championship has used the ability of reviewing fights as a force for good. In the MMA and combat sports world, there are many, many cases of fights going to decision that were questionable at best. The first name that comes to mind is Adalaide Byrde who has made a litany of bad calls across boxing and MMA. In the words of Joe Rogan: “She’s a nice lady.” The largest event was when she gave a lopsided scorecard to Canelo in the first Canelo-GGG bout which was a split decision, which was controversial as most had GGG winning the fight.

For ONE Championship, reviewing fights has mainly been a force for good. While Chatri Sityodtong has used it to review some of the promotion’s bigger fighters losses, and in all fairness they have been close fights, the review panel did well to not overturn close fights but only to change controversial calls like Eddie Alvarez being disqualified for punches to the back of the head of Iuri Lapicus which he did not receive a warning for.

Reviewing fights – the promoter’s job or the athletic commission’s?

The problem with promoters having the power and ability to change fights is the major conflict of interest they inherently have. While ONE Championship has done a just job at making sure this power is not abused, that doesn’t mean it will never be or will set a prescience for other promotions to follow suit and abuse the power. With ONE Championship reviewing fights, it gives others permission to do so as well. As the old adage goes, “Lead by example.” ONE may not abuse the panel that reviews fights, but they can’t guarantee others won’t. And the other promotions, when scrutinized for unethical practices, will simply point the finger at ONE Championship saying they do it too and what they are doing is the same thing.

Ultimately, the power to overturn fights should lie in the hands of the athletic commissions. I won’t claim to be an expert on who does and does not have athletic commissions, but it seems ONE Championship is keen on working with them, especially with their impending entry into the United States. We’ve seen major examples of fights overturned in the UFC, the dominate force in the western MMA world. Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt, Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz, and Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier 2 have all been overturned for drug related issues, all the right calls.

But the precedence for ONE Championship’s reviewing of fights in the west lies in the example provided by PFL. Last May, PFL’s Fabricio Werdum was “defeated” by Renan Ferreira. Werdum had Ferreira in a triangle and Ferreira did what’s called the “Brazilian tap,” which is where the fighter in the submission taps the leg but tries to do it out of sight of the referee so the other fighter lets the choke go. Ferreira went on to finish Werdum in that position via TKO. But the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board decided that was a cheating method and overturned the loss to a no-decision.

ONE can leave the judging of fights in the hands of these athletic commissions and such. It’s very hard to get a fight turned over this way. The UFC has been trying to get Jon Jones’ lone loss to Matt Hamill, a disqualification, overturned to return the champ to undefeated status, but he’s had no such luck. Athletic commissions often miss opportunities to turn over fights and decisions, but when they do, it is without a doubt deserved.

ONE Championship doesn’t need all that power. It opens the door for all kinds of shenanigans. The promotion has shown great self awareness in that aspect. The giving up of the power is something that had to be done with the risk of foul play being levied towards the promotion. It wouldn’t take much for competition like the UFC to say they fix matches and switch around those they don’t like, therefore they are not legitimate. By handing over the reviewing of fights, ONE Championship side steps this as well.

The decision to take fight reviews out of their own hands is a good sign for ONE Championship. They’re wanting to be a major player in the west and that means playing ball like the big boys. This is a step in that direction.


In addition to covering news for ONE Championship, Blaine Henry, the author, also analyzes fights from all combat sports across the globe. 

Blaine Henry can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Patreon

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