Russian invasion of Ukraine last month left the world shocked. The war has affected millions of people including the athletes that might not be in favor of the war.
Recently, the biggest Asian MMA promotion, ONE Championship has announced that there would be no Russian fighters competing in the promotion’s upcoming event in Singapore as the local government has banned Russian athletes from competing there.
“In consideration of the international sentiments around the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict, currently arranged bouts involving ONE’s Russian athletes will be/have been rescheduled,” a statement from the Asian martial arts promotion read. “We remain focused on supporting athletes affected by the current situation.”
ONE Championship usually holds its events in big cities of like Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Jakarta, Bangkok, and many others. But ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, they’ve been limited to booking their big events to be held in their home base of Singapore.
After two years of holding event behind closed doors, the promotion will finally see the return of the full crowd following the recent relaxation of local COVID-19 restrictions. Russian fighters originally slated to appear on the card will be replaced.
Fighters that were removed from the card included Islam Murtazaev, who was scheduled to meet Nieky Holzken on a kickboxing bout, and Yusup Saadulaev who was set to fight Shoko Sato.
The former three times IFMA Muay Thai champion Alaverdi Ramzonov also pulled out from his Muay Thai title fight against the champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and has been replaced by Felipe Lobo.
“It’s just about international sentiment,” ONE chairman and CEO Chatri told the Post during a virtual media scrum after the ONE: Lights Out event on Friday.
Chatri Sityadong is reportedly making sure that the Russian athletes are getting paid show money considering that several of them have already arrived in Singapore.
He also promised that they are going to give the Russian fighters replacement fights soon. ONE FC is preparing to promote shows outside Singapore soon, with Jakarta and Bangkok looking like likely destinations.
Sanctions have hit the combat sports world. According to the Kuzbass Muay Thai Federation, Russian ONE Championship athletes have arrived in Singapore but won't be able to compete, because the government banned them from attending ONE: LIGHTS OUT on March, 11th. pic.twitter.com/HL7bICNwWl
— Beyond Kickboxing (@Beyond_Kick) March 5, 2022
This is an interesting development considering that UFC was rumored to be coming to Singapore again – the card in question is UFC 275 with Zhang Weili rumored to be the headliner.