ONE Championship raises Sequoia-led $166m round to reach near $1b valuation

Chatri Sityodtong, founder, chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, at DEALSTREETASIA's Asia PE-VC Summit 2017 in Singapore.

Singapore’s mixed martial arts firm ONE Championship on Monday announced closing a $166-million Series D round led by Sequoia Capital.

According to industry sources, the round values ONE Championship at close to $1 billion.

Other investors in the latest funding round include Temasek Holdings, Greenoaks Capital and other institutional investors.

With this round, ONE Championship has now raised a total of $266 million from investors. The company said it plans to use the proceeds to strengthen its leadership in the sports media market in Asia.

ONE Championship is the organiser of MMA fights such as Grit and Glory in Jakarta, Unstoppable Dreams in Singapore and Battle for the Heavens in Shanghai. It has earlier revealed plans to expand its events, partnership deals and digital offerings.

Led by former MMA champion Chatri Sityodtong, ONE has previously raised funding from Sequoia India in 2017 and Heliconia Capital Management, a unit of Temasek Holdings, in 2016.

The Singapore-based firm covers a wide range of martial arts including Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Karate, Kung Fu, Silat and Sanda. It claims to broadcast to over 1.7 billion potential viewers across 138 countries.

ONE Championship also hosts some of the largest sports entertainment events in Asia in partnership with broadcasters such as Fox Sports, ABS-CBN, Astro, ClaroSports, Bandsports, Startimes, Premier Sports, Thairath TV, Skynet, Mediacorp and OSN.

How a casual elevator chat sealed the deal for Sequoia in 2017

In July last year, Singapore-based sports media brand ONE Championship announced that it had secured a major equity investment led by venture capital firm Sequoia India and Mission Holdings, bringing its total funding raised to over $100 million.

Interestingly, for Sequoia Capital, which has come back to invest in One Championship’s Series D round propelling it possibly close to the unicorn orbit, it was a chance encounter while waiting for an elevator that the journey of its association with the Chatri-led firm began.

Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore Pte. Ltd managing director Shailendra J Singh, had tweeted on July 20, 2017,  “10 wks ago, casual chat while waiting for a lift, heard abt @YODCHATRI and @ONEChampionship journey … thrilled & excited to lead new round.”

“We have arguably the most blue-chip institutional shareholder base in all of Asia for a sports media property. We have raised $100 million in total so far,” the 46-year old Sityodtong (who is known by his first name) had said, in an earlier wide-ranging interview, when asked about the investment round (2017) that was led by Sequoia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.