Earlier this week, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced a new partnership with MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz and his company, Dominance MMA.
Abdelaziz and Sityodtong were first introduced through their mutual friend, Renzo Gracie, but only recently began working together. Both agree the relationship is long overdue.
“I’ve known Chatri for seven, eight years,” Ali Abdelaziz told BJPENN.com on Thursday. “He’s one of Renzo Gracie’s students, and everybody knows I’m a black belt under Renzo. I’ve seen how ONE Championship has grown leaps and bounds, and [Sityodtong] has become one of the best promoters in the world, putting on some of the best fights in the world.
“ONE Championship always has a different feel to it. I always watch ONE shows,” he added. “It’s nice to work with [an organization] you like. I’m a fan of a lot of fighters in ONE. There are a lot of great fighters. They have a lot of big names.
“I think it’s late, we should have been working together earlier. Chatri even said that, and I agree with him. We should have been working together a long while back.”
The new partnership between ONE and Dominance MMA will see Abdelaziz, who manages UFC superstars like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje and Henry Cejudo and countless others, begin moving some of his top free agents to ONE. In fact, the migration has already started, as Dominance-repped BJJ legend Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida just signed with the Singapore-based organization.
Abdelaziz says Buchecha will be the first of many Dominance fighters to move to ONE.
“It’s simple, Dominance MMA has the best fighters in the world right now,” he said. “ONE Championship can bring a lot to the table, I can bring a lot to the table. It’s a win-win for everybody. I’ll be the pipeline, bringing a lot of US fighters to ONE Championship.”
ONE Championship places a significant focus on traditional martial arts values, and discourages its fighters from trash-talking. Abdelaziz recognizes that not all of his fighters will be a good fit for environment, but is confident that the fighters he sends over will be taken care of.
“Somebody who is a martial artist, has certain skills, might be a good fit for ONE Championship,” he said. “Somebody who might have a crazy personality, says a lot of outlandish stuff, maybe he won’t fit with ONE Championship. But at the day, ONE Championship’s job is to sign the best fighters in the world. I’ve got some of the best fighters in the world. I like ONE. I like Chatri. I like [matchmaker] Matt Hume. I like everybody who works there.
“I’m going to feel safe having my athletes there. This is my number one thing: Is my athlete going to be taken care of? Is my athlete going to be compensated right? I’ve never heard anything about ONE Championship not paying athletes. They have a lot of money and I know they’re going to make some smart investments in some of the fighters I give them.
“This is going to be good for everybody.”
As more Dominance MMA fighters start moving to ONE, Ali Abdelaziz is confident that more ONE Championship belts will start making their way back to the United States.
“At the end of the day, my job is to put [my fighters] in a position to win the belt,” he said. “Humbly, I work with some of the best fighters ever. In the UFC, we have most of the belts. In the PFL, we have most of the belts. I like gold. My guys like gold. We’re all gold-diggers. We’re going to go to ONE, and we’d love to have some belts. It would be a true honor to have some ONE champions.”