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Chatri Sityodtong dodges questions on ONE Championship’s losses, curious financial transactions

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Chatri Sityodtong says reports on ONE Championship’s losses and curious financial transactions are “not worth addressing.”

Chatri Sityodtong says reports on ONE Championship’s finances aren’t worth addressing. Getty Images

Over the last few years, Bloody Elbow has covered ONE Championship’s own financial filings in ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore, very similar to the US Security and Exchange Commission). While ONE routinely made bold claims about their success, their own filings showed the opposite, and has revealed hundreds of millions in losses.

Their latest financial documents have been making the rounds with investors, and it showed almost $47.6 million in losses for the 2020 year, along with a very curious $400 million transaction that had ONE (Group) selling IP rights to their own ONE subsidiary.

The price for these was shares they deemed to be worth $200 million, and another $200 million in cash that as of date remain unpaid. They filed this as a huge $400 million revenue, and listed the company to have had $341 million in profit.

ONE has also reported accumulated losses of $273 million.

Through those years of Bloody Elbow following ONE Championship’s unique finances on each of their filings in Singapore, officials from the MMA promotion repeatedly declined to comment.

For these latest 2020 numbers, we reached out and sent them a list of questions about their own financial documents two weeks before publication. ONE ultimately did not answer any of our questions on the topic.

ONE Championship’s founder, Chatri Sityodtong has since appeared on the MMA Hour, and it’s where Ariel Helwani was able to ask him about the financial numbers. Sityodtong, whose real name is Chatri Trisiripisal, said that “the internet is a dangerous place” and that people shouldn’t believe everything they read online.

He declined to answer a specific question about the $400 million sale, and claimed there were a lot of “factual errors and inaccuracies.” When pressed to address and reveal which parts weren’t accurate, Sityodtong said “it’s not even worth addressing.”

Here’s a full transcript of the exchange:

Helwani: “I want to ask you about, yesterday, BloodyElbow.com had a very long report about ONE’s financial situation, and talking about some of the financial losses, some of the improvements over the past year, but there’s this one big item about a transfer of $400 million dollars from the Group to the Company, which then ONE reported this big financial gain in 2020. What can you tell us about this transaction and just perhaps overall the financial health of ONE Championship?

Sityodtong: “I will say that the internet is a dangerous place and you shouldn’t uh believe everything you read, and there is a lot of factual errors and inaccuracies you know? Uh, but that I mean, um, I’ll just say that we have some big news that I’m announcing and um, that's, I’ll leave it at that. Some exciting news and yeah, I mean uh I’ll leave it at that. I’ll just say like look, the internet is a dangerous place if you believe everything you read, especially from less than uh... How can I say it politely? I would yeah, I would just leave it at that.”

Helwani: “Since you say inaccurate, would you like to clear up anything that was reported there?”

Sityodtong: “No, it was I mean, it was, there was tons of inaccuracies, tons of errors, it’s not even like one or two, if it were just like one or two I would point it out. I mean like, it’s not worth addressing. Again, it’s like I said, um, like, I like to let the truth speak over time as opposed to uh you know, um, yeah... it's just one of these things.

I mean uh, you know for a long time people doubted us for example, our viewership numbers and Nielson Industry, Nielson came out with an Industry Report on the biggest sports properties in the world just a few months ago, and you know this “so-called publication” was also one of those publications that was like you know, “yapping about our numbers” — and Nielson comes out and says, “Look, ONE is in the top ten in terms of viewership, engagement metrics, um, and actually number three in the world for most watched uh Global Sports Property on TV. Umm, and then our organic, our Online Organic Video Views, I think it was number four or something like that, or number five in the world or something like that”.

Uh, so I prefer the truth to come out, and and my team and I are working hard, and I can just tell you that um, we have literally some of the smartest blue chip institution investors in the world, like Sequoia Capital, um like Temasek Holdings, uh who are razor-razor sharp and their not gonna hand us $346 million dollars if we don’t know what we’re doing. Uh, and yeah, I mean if, if uh... I’ll just leave it at that.

And like I’m super excited for so many things, and I'm obviously announcing our December 5th event, which will be a blockbuster event and a huge 2022... I don’t know if you saw, uh saw the interview I gave I think uh last week um to MixedMartialArts.com or whoever, and um 2022 is gonna be our biggest year yet. I mean we have the plans and we will announce our calendar of events imminently.”

Helwani: “I look forward to that and I appreciate you weighing in on that... Plan on potentially going public, is that in the works?”

Sityodtong: “I um Ariel, I’d love to make some big announcements. I can’t talk about stuff right now. Man, you’ve done, uh, let’s just say that you’ve uh, you’ve just... I can’t uh. I can’t say anything.”

As mentioned earlier, John Nash’s report on Bloody Elbow is simply based on ONE Championship’s own financial document that they created themselves.

Below is the list of questions that Bloody Elbow sent ONE Championship:

1. Was there any specific reason why Wei Jin Soh resigned his position in the company?

2. According to the statement as of Dec 31, 2020 the Group has raised approximately $276 million from investors and also has a $72 million loan in the form of a convertible note. Accumulated losses at that date were reported as $273 million with around $89 million in cash available. Is there any additional details about One’s current available cash that we should be aware of? Has there been a new round of funding this year or has the company taken out another loan to guarantee they have capital for the future? Has the convertible note been converted to shares?

3. The report shows a $400 million transaction with One Championship, inc, a subsidiary of Group One Holdings Pte. Ltd. Can you tell us the source of the cash for this transaction and when it is expected to be paid to Group One Holdings Pte. Ltd. Also how was the fair value of both the IP rights (at $400 million) and the valuation of One Championship, inc. arrived at?

4. You have filed a lawsuit with former employee Loren Mack in Clark Country, Nevada alleging a breach of non-competition restraints and theft of intellectual property. He in turn has filed a counterclaim against One Championship. Is there any additional information you can give about this suit, and do you have any statement you wish to make regarding the counterclaim?

5. You note in the statement that revenue from broadcast partners can take the form of cash and non-cash considerations. The non-cash considerations include “marketing efforts such as promotional plugs provided by the broadcast partner in exchange for the right to broadcast the events.” Can you tell us how much of your revenue is made up of such non-cash considerations?

6. Does One have any plans to go forward with an IPO or SPAC? If they do, when can we expect for this to take place?

7. Has ONE renewed their broadcast deal with Turner Sports. If not can you tell us if there’s any plans for it to be renewed or if there are plans for any other US broadcaster to carry the promotion?

ONE Championship chose not to respond to these questions. Singapore-based financial news outlet Deal Street Asia has also since obtained a copy of ONE Championship’s 2020 finances, reporting that it is consistent with Nash’s report on this website.

Recently, ONE also set up a Cayman Islands entity, which has a more opaque structure when it comes to finances.