A while back, I wrote an article on virtual reality and how it will be the future of combat sports. In that article I managed to find a video on YouTube with their 360 videos. I was astonished. It was Canelo vs. GGG and it was like being ring side. That was child’s play. This weekend I managed to pry my son’s Oculus VR headset off his head and take a peek at ONE Championship putting their event on the Horizon app. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Absolutely incredible, as a matter of fact.
ONE Championship adding VR events to their mixed martial arts cards makes complete sense. It’s an amalgamation of the company’s ONE Esports brand of which Demetrious Johnson is an ambassador. Taking what works in Esports makes a lot of sense when it comes to fighting. The technology there is lightyears ahead of martial arts broadcasting and with ONE adopting and cross-pollinating, it really puts them on the cutting edge of the technology.
With Facebook, now Meta, pushing into the Metaverse, events are going to be more commonplace in the Oasis (Ready Player One joke for you nerds out there). Already there are talks with the Dhali Lama, Billie Eilish, and 2 Chainz events going on in addition to ONE Championship. Meta is pushing to connect the virtual reality universe, being the fiber to have all of the creators put their content into their framework, much like Ready Player One. While it’s early and the halls can be void at times, you can see the idea and foundation set. The Metaverse is going to be massive.
ONE Championship is ahead of the curve on their adoption. The UFC has recently signed a deal with Unity, a very big and powerful engine to create games, and will presumably be working towards this same thing. But ONE is already there. They’re already putting on events in the Metaverse and building a catalogue that will dwarf any newcomers for a long time.
ONE Championship: NextGen in Virtual Reality
The event I watched was ONE Championship: NextGen with the main event between Stamp Fairtex and Julie Mezabarba. I was absolutely blown away by the production and quality compared to the boxing video I watched with YouTube 360 video. The Oculus video was just that much more immersive.
ONE does a good job keeping the virtual reality fresh as you’re watching. You get fresh camera angles based on where the fight is at in the cage/ring. My personal favorite is sitting right at cageside where a coach would be sitting. An advantage of VR, however, is no fence to obstruct your view. You are sitting on the floor in the cage. But other camera angles include those on top the fence and more.
ONE Championship holds their fights on Friday morning but the processing of the virtual reality is presumably requires too much processing and the promotion puts on the VR events later in the evening as a premier event. If you want to see what ONE Championship has coming, as well as everything else in Venues, check out the schedule here.
ONE isn’t the first sport company to get into the virtual reality game. NBA League Pass has a VR option that is top notch. You can watch Wilder knock out Spitzka, Canelo, and more. FOX even dabbled with the tech when the UFC was under contract but those videos were admittedly poor with only one camera view behind the fence.
If you’re wanting to dip your toes into the VR world without having to shell out the money on an expensive Oculus, you can always try out the 360 videos on YouTube. I will admit that they’re not the same level of immersion that the Oculus is. But if you’ve never done the full VR experience, you’ll be wowed by this all the same. You can look at a headset like the BNext and watch the videos on YouTube there. In fact, below, I’ve embedded a video from ONE that will do the trick to show you what combat sports and VR is about.
Virtual reality is truly the future. Not the future of combat sports, but the future of entertainment. After seeing what ONE Championship has done with VR and their events, and with the coming improvements to the technology as a whole, we are bound to have better and better events. ONE Championship is ahead of the curve and they’re only just getting started.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it. Also, Cowboy Cerrone is the GOAT.