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Chatri Sityodtong Believes Asian MMA On Brink of Becoming Multi Billion Dollar Industry

PhilBoxing.com




Evolve MMA owner Chatri Sityodtong is an entrepreneur, investor and self made millionaire. A Harvard graduate who made his money on Wall Street he is also a long term martial artist who has very high hopes for the future of Asian MMA,

“At the moment the value of the industry in Asia can be calculated in terms of tens of millions of dollars but the population of Asia is 3.9 billion and less than one per cent of those people have even heard of MMA. The potential for growth is frightening, in the next 10-20 years this is going to be a 10-15 billion dollar industry.”

Chatri founded Evolve MMA in 2008 at a time when no-one else in Singapore was offering any sort of MMA training. It is now universally recognized as being Asia’s top martial arts academy but initially he made this investment for personal rather than financial reasons,

“I always believed Evolve MMA would be successful but for me it was a way of giving back because martial arts has had such a positive influence on my life. Martial arts is one of the greatest platforms to unleash human potential. It is the journey of continuous self-improvement mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

“Above all, martial arts gives its students a warrior spirit, an unbreakable will to do great things in life. I wanted to create a place where people could come learn authentic martial arts under real world champions. I wanted to create a place where people could learn to become the best versions of themselves possible...to achieve their dreams in every area of life.”

Originally from Thailand Chatri started learning Muay Thai as a child and has had a number of professional Muay Thai fights. He also hold a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Brazilian legend Renzo Gracie but says his experience pales in comparison to that of his team of instructors,

“At Evolve MMA the Muay Thai trainers have all had 200-300 fights and won titles at the main stadiums in Thailand, which is the most difficult place in the world to win a Muay Thai title. The BJJ instructors are all black belts and world champions, between them the trainers here have centuries of experience and I believe that’s the reason that Evolve MMA is named every year as being the top MMA camp in Asia.”

Chatri believes that people in Asia are far more passionate about martial arts than those in the West and uses his own fighting career as a comparison,

“I’ve had around 30 Muay Thai fights and when people in the US hear that they are always impressed and assume I must be some sort of champion. But if I tell someone in Thailand how many fights I have had the immediate reaction is always ‘is that all?’, there is a culture of martial arts here which is centuries old and that’s a big difference between Asia and the West.”

In the US the sport is well established largely due to the efforts of the Las Vegas based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) which is already a multi billion dollar business. In Asia, MMA is still in its infancy and that’s why Chatri is so upbeat about the prospects for future expansion,

“Some people have suggested that in the US the MMA market has reached saturation point. I don’t live there anymore so I couldn’t comment on that but in Asia it is not even close because there are billions of people here who don’t even know what MMA is yet.”

An organization that is looking to change that is ONE Fighting Championship which is also headquartered in Singapore. Formed in 2011 it is already established as Asia’s biggest MMA promotion and puts on sold out events in stadiums and arenas all over the continent.

A number of Evolve MMA fighters have featured and Chatri has travelled to the ONE FC shows to corner them and witnessed first hand the sort of crowds that have flocked to fill venues in Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur as well as Singapore,

“When I founded Evolve MMA in 2008 MMA didn’t really exist in Singapore but now 10,000 people will buy tickets for ONE FC. We have a fighter on the card for ONE FC’s event next month in Kuala Lumpur and 15,000 people are expected to attend, the only other sports which can even compete with that are Formula One and Soccer,” he said.

People in the Philippines are some of the most passionate boxing fans in the world and the sport is as popular and lucrative as ever, with Manny Pacquiao the best paid fighter on the planet. Chatri does not feel that MMA is a threat to boxing but does believe as a sport there is less to limit its growth,

“Everyone likes to watch a big boxing match but overall it doesn’t have the same mainstream appeal as MMA because most people would never consider actually boxing themselves. MMA attracts people from all walks of life, we have a member of the Evolve MMA Fight Team who is an economics graduate from Princeton University, that’s why MMA will eventually overtake boxing in terms of global revenue.”

One thing that Chatri has discovered since starting Evolve MMA is that there are no demographic restrictions governing who will and won’t be interested in MMA. It is a sport which transcends boundaries of class, age, gender and race and that’s one of the reasons he is so excited about the future of this relatively young sport,

“At Evolve MMA we have members from all walks of life, ranging from retired business executives to school girls, and they are all fans of MMA. Some sports don’t travel well, for instance no-one watches cricket in the US and no-one cares about the NFL in Singapore, but MMA is truly universal and there is no doubt in my mind that it is set to become a multi billion dollar industry in Asia.”


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