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ONE Championship, Amazon Prime Video execs buzzing ahead of debut event: 'This is going to be a treat for the American audience'

'ONE on Prime Video 1: Johnson vs. Moraes II' streams live in North American primetime on Friday, Aug. 26.

LOS ANGELES – Singapore-based martial arts organization ONE Championship has its sights set on the North American audience, and the promotion has secured a major streaming deal to aid that effort.

On Aug. 26, "ONE on Prime Video 1: Johnson vs. Moraes II" will stream live in primetime in the U.S. and Canada on Amazon Prime Video as part of a multi-year agreement with the streaming giant. Reigning ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes faces former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in a highly-anticipated rematch in the night's main event.

ONE vice president Rich Franklin, a UFC Hall of Famer and former UFC middleweight champion, said the new deal marks the beginning of a much larger strategy to grow the brand's presence in North America.

"It's huge for us," Franklin told MMA Underground following a press conference at The Novo. "For us, it was advantageous because Prime Video has been just tying up sports content, right? Like, they're the home of Thursday night NFL now, and so this was a no-brainer for us.

"This is huge for us. They have 200 million subscribers. This is going to open up the U.S. and Canadian audience for us coming to the U.S., so this is phase one for us, our U.S. entry, and then obviously boots on the ground next, and those events are going to be on Prime, as well."

Amazon vice president of global sports video Marie Donoghue said ONE Championship was an appealing partner for the platform for several reasons, including the fact that the organization hosts muay Thai and kickboxing bouts, as well as submission grappling matches, to go along with the more typical MMA contests.

"We started with sports a few years ago, and one thing we know is our audience loves marquee sports – just loves them – and so with ONE Championship, you can't get any better, especially in the MMA space," Donoghue said. "We're thrilled. We're excited they're live, which will be amazing. They're in primetime on Amazon Prime and you know, these guys are different.

"I talked a little bit about it on stage. I mean, they have more disciplines. They treat women equally. They infuse compassion and integrity and so many amazing cultural values in their events, as well as in their surrounding programing, so I think it's really unique and a great opportunity for us."

For now, ONE will continue to host its events at Singapore Indoor Stadium, though they will be held in the morning hours locally in order to air in primetime in North America. The company has previously hosted nearly 200 events across Asia during its 10-year history, though the time difference has made it a challenge to lure a North American audience.

The new deal calls for a minimum of 12 events annually to stream on Amazon Prime Video through the length of the deal, though Franklin said as the company continues to return to a more robust travel schedule following the height of COVID-19 restrictions, that number could increase.

"It'll come down to schedule," Franklin said. "Obviously for us, we were impacted greatly by COVID. I mentioned that in the press conference – with Singapore being such a small country, it shut down our entire travels, and for us to come through that is truly an amazing thing, so we're now back to the point where we're a traveling entity again and coming here to the U.S., so I would imagine that 2023, we may end up reevaluating and delivering above and beyond the 12, but that's just kind of as we go. We'll figure it out."

Franklin said ONE Championship will likely host the organization's first live event in the U.S. next year but had no other details to offer on that front. For now, the company is simply focused on a successful launch of a potentially pivotal streaming deal in the U.S. and Canada and is excited to show the audience the organization's unique product.

"It's exciting for us to bring a different product to the U.S.," Franklin said. "It's not just an MMA organization, right? We have world-class muay Thai, kickboxing, grapplers, and all these athletes. I mean, you've seen the matches. You've seen the muay Thai matches that we've put on in these four-ounce gloves that are amazing matches. The kickboxing quality – I mean, these guys never fail to deliver, and the number of world champions that we have on the roster that were champions in their individual sports before they even got to ONE championship? This is going to be a treat for the American audience, for sure."

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.