Chatri Sityodtong, founder and head honcho of Asian mixed martial arts ONE Championship, said he has not written off the Philippines as a potential host for this year’s live events.

“Or course, I want to throw an event in the Philippines. But I’m not sure that this year, that it’s going to be possible,” he said in the latest episode of “Home & Away,” which airs Saturday night on Inquirer Sports’ Facebook page.

“But never say never. Anything can happen. We are speaking with the Philippine government about some fun, really crazy ideas,” the executive said from his home in Singapore.

Without getting into details, Sityodtong said that an event in the Philippines is possible on the grounds that “there are different spots in the [country] where COVID-19 has not hit.”

Even with its meteoric rise and its expansion to Japan and the United States, ONE Championship has continued to value the Philippines as part of its calendar of stops.

Four major events were held at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City in 2019. Two showpieces were slated here this year just before the coronavirus pandemic put sporting events around the globe at a standstill.

Sityodtong himself said fans of the promotion should see Team Lakay’s stars back in the cage soon.

“I love Team Lakay,” he said. “All those guys are incredibly great athletes so they will definitely be in the [coming] cards.”

“They are probably the first guys who are gonna get the call. I mean, they’re the first guys who will get the call, for sure, from the Philippines.”

Sityodtong’s revelation comes on the heels of the Singapore government’s reported easing of its restrictions for professional athletes.

Mark Sangiao, shot-caller of the famed Benguet fight stable Team Lakay, previously said in a webinar with Muaythai Association of the Philippines that he had been notified of such development, which should bode well for Filipino athletes.

Even after ONE’s nearly three month hiatus, Sityodtong said his enthusiasm has not tapered.

“I think in the next couple of weeks, I will make very big announcements,” he added. “Global cards will come back.”

“Of course I worry about our athletes and I want to make sure we quickly ramp up the events so our athletes can get tons of fights and good income again.”


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