Oh so gentle

CONOR MCGREGOR, an Irishman who is perhaps the world’s most famous mixed-martial arts (MMA) fighter, is as famous for his mouth as for his quick feet and hands. He boasts about how much more money he makes than his opponents. He has referred to other fighters as “twerp” and “snake”.

The co-founder of ONE Championship—an MMA league stealing a march in Asia on Mr McGregor’s American-based league, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—is disdainful of such behaviour. Martial arts, insists its founder, Chatri Sityodtong, who is Thai-American, is about discipline and humility, not brashness. Most of a fighter’s work, after all, takes place outside the ring. Promotional videos for ONE’s fighters tend to depict them training rather than fighting. The point, says Mr Sityodtong, is to inspire viewers to achieve their dreams in their own lives, rather than just getting them to cheer the biggest bully on the block.

ONE has pursued a policy that might be described as “hyperlocalism”. Western sports properties, such as the English Premier League (EPL), a football championship,...Continue reading