If you’re like me, you’ve been obsessively checking into any and all social media channels to get information on when ONE Championship can make their comeback.
So imagine my shock when, not one, but two events were suddenly scheduled in the month of June, both less than a week from now.
Is ONE Championship back? Where was the announcement? Did they beat COVID? Why is it a China Broadcast only?
What’s going on?
What’s ONE Hero Series Again?
For those who don’t remember what ONE Hero Series (OHS) is, here’s a quick reminder.
ONE Hero Series is a professional feeder league, similar to Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series (OWS). The only difference is that it exclusively features Chinese fighters and is primarily held in China.
The first one was held in January of last year, and there’s been an OHS event every month for the rest of the year. The fact that there weren’t any OHS events scheduled pre-COVIDmade some of us think that the promotion was done with the program.
OHS was designed as a way to generate more Chinese interest in MMA, and they pushed it hard last year.
As far as I can tell, only two alumni of the program made it to the main stage – Xie Wei and Zhe Li. They both lost to Danny Kingad and Adrian Mattheis respectively.
Why Bring OHS Back?
As we’ve already mentioned, there didn’t seem to be any plans of reviving OHS in 2020 – until COVID happened. In these weird and uncertain times, the OHS format is actually a good solution.
Unlike virtually all of ONE Championship’s other events that take place in multiple countries and invite an international roster of fighters, OHS is China exclusive.
This means no one – not the fighters or the production team- needs to go through international travel. It’s a COVID-proof solution.
(By COVID-proof of course I mean no one else has to deal with any fall-out beyond China if anyone in the event tests positive).
It’s an ideal solution for a company that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel to create content to feed its marketing machine and keep its advertising partners happy.
Why China-Only Broadcast?
This is the part that’s quite unclear, and until someone says something official about it, everything that follows is speculation.
Not the Heroes We Deserve
Without even a single announcement about it on any of the promotion’s social media channels, it’s obvious that the company wants as little attention on these events as possible.
That’s because these are not the cards that ONE wants to make its return with.
When the UFC came back, they gave the world Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaththje. So when ONE comes back, they’re bringing… Hui vs. Zha Xi?
Overall, the quality of OHS even in comparison to the promotion’s other feeder league OWS is not impressive.
OWS has only had 10 events in three years while OHS has had 12 events in one year. OWS has produced better quality and more marketable talent in its first two events than OHS has done in its entire run.
To put it bluntly, not many people outside China care about OHS – and that’s fine.
A few months ago, I described how ONE Championship doesn’t rely on live events as much as its competitors do. They instead depend on advertising and partnerships on the content they create as their primary source of revenue.
With three months of nothing going on, only having replays to show, and the UFC pulling off multiple events; it’s easy to imagine Chatri getting a bunch of calls from worried investors.
These two events are nothing more than a stop-gap to keep at least the Chinese stockholders quiet as the world slowly comes out of lockdown.
It gives that part of their audience something to chew on without really bothering the rest of Asia with lofty expectations of a true return.
But does this mean that a true return is just over the horizon? Unless international flights somehow become possible in the following two weeks, expect ONE to cancel Fists of Fury and No Surrender as they come closer.
What do you think about these surprise events? Are they anything worth getting excited over? Why is ONE suddenly pushing OHS forward when they seemed to be done with the program? Share your conspiracies.
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!