ONE Championship 109 on February 28 is believed to the first big sports event held in front of an empty arena. The move came after discussion with health officials and government officials in the host city of Singapore. Every staff member had their temperature taken, and anyone over 100.4 F had to self-quarantine or head to the hospital. Each fighter got only a single corner.
“It was very challenging, because you don’t have the crowd to feed off,” explained Schiavello. “You haven’t got the lulls and the manic highs and the crescendos. The pitch of the audience is like a symphony. It’s like an orchestra. You’re an opera singer, you’re a Pavarotti, and you’ve got the maestro conducting the orchestra, and when the orchestra starts to pitch high and crescendo, your voice crescendos in that high C. But when you haven’t got that maestro, that orchestra playing to you, you’ve got to create those crescendos and those lulls yourself, so it’s very difficult to be able to bring that energy and fill in that empty air that you wouldn’t necessarily need to fill in if you had an audience there.
“[co-commentator Mitch Chilson] and I, we prepared for it, and we decided we’d be a little somber in the opening that we did with Chatri. We’d lay the foundation. Then, from there, it was full-bore. It was no holding back, balls to the wall, giving it a full-pelt commentary like we usually do.”
“The beauty of it was when we were all there, we all knew we were doing something above and beyond each of us getting a paycheck. We knew we were doing something for the greater good. It was already a worldwide pandemic that already had most of Asia in fits of anxiety and panic. People losing their jobs, people going to the hospital and losing their lives. Our contribution was, ‘Hey. You know what? We can give you an escape from this terrible reality for four hours on a Friday night. If we can do that for you, that makes us feel good that we’ve given something back.'”