You might have the impression that mixed martial arts is a sport organized by men, for men. However, women have been critical to the growth of the sport, both in and out of the ring.
Today, mixed martial arts is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, championed by both genders. Telltale signs include the diminishing gender skew in mixed martial arts students and fans around the world. ONE Championship and other organizations have promoted events in which female athletes are the headliners, and they continue to employ female leaders in their boardrooms to drive the industry forward.
ONE: EMPOWER, the first all-female event put on by a major global martial arts organization, is scheduled for 3 September.
The event is a celebration of women’s empowerment and the highest level of martial arts competition, featuring the start of the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix and a main event World Title bout with China’s first Mixed Martial Arts World Champion, Xiong Jing Nan.
While the Grand Prix has created an opportunity to determine the next challenger for ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, it has also given the Hawaii native the ability to take maternity leave after delivering a healthy baby girl.
Between the World Title bout, the Grand Prix quarterfinals, and all the other exciting contests on the bill, there’s no doubt that all of the women who step inside the Circle will help make this one of the best martial arts events of 2021.
With ONE: EMPOWER on the horizon, let’s look at some of ONE’s top female athletes and leaders who are setting the pace for this industry.
World-Class Female Athletes
Lee, Xiong, and former two-sport World Champion Stamp Fairtex have become household names in their respective home countries and globally.
As athletes, they have shown that hard work, determination, and grit pay off. They have proven that obstacles such as poverty, tragedy, and even near-fatal accidents cannot deter a true champion’s quest for greatness.
Beyond competing, these athletes are known to take action for a good cause. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, Xiong personally donated more than 10,000 adult diapers to female medical staff when she learned they were not able to take bathroom breaks. Lee and ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Champion Janet Todd have also used their platforms to speak out against social issues like cyberbullying, Black Lives Matter, and Stop Asian Hate.
Moreover, these women are paving the way for future generations of female mixed martial artists, and athletes in general. More and more brands have fallen in love with female mixed martial artists, as they not only exemplify determination and courage in the ring, but also show compassion and tenderness as mothers and daughters.
Instrumental Female Business Leaders
Much of ONE Championship’s success is driven by inspiring female figures who come from diverse backgrounds. Just like our female athletes, they work diligently to hone their skills, deliver intellectual horsepower, and exemplify great leadership traits like accountability and decisiveness. Above that, they proactively nurture their teams with compassion, humility, and open communication, resulting in respect and admiration from their peers and industry leaders.
Let’s get to know some of the world-class leaders who have helped grow ONE and the competitive mixed martial arts industry.
Niharika Singh & Jesley Chua
Niharika Singh, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Tech, may be known for her role as ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong’s Advisor on “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition,” but away from the camera, she plays a critical role in driving the business. Singh has led strategic endeavors such as the digital and tech strategy for ONE, the launch of ONE’s gaming and NFT verticals, and helps shape ONE’s day-to-day organization and business strategy. Every day, she shows grit, resilience, and fearlessness in the face of the challenges she encounters.
Jesley Chua, Chief Financial Officer, leads ONE’s operational and strategic finance functions. She plays a pivotal role in the sustainable growth of ONE by ensuring that resources are appropriately allocated across our various business lines and new initiatives. Chua also leads our investor and capital markets relationships, as well as Singapore government relations. Formerly an investment professional with GIC, she has a deep knowledge of economics, finance, and investment, and spearheads the development of strategies that will take ONE to greater heights.
Erica Kerner & Jane Guo
Erica Kerner, Senior Vice President, Marketing Strategy & Partnerships, is a prominent figure in the global sports industry who has enjoyed stints at Nike and adidas. At ONE, Kerner helps to educate brands about the power of sports marketing using two of the world’s fastest-growing sports – mixed martial arts and esports. She also works together with the brand’s CMOs and marketing teams to develop strategies that maximize the ROI of their ONE partnerships and develops long-term relationships that drive key brand metrics and growth. Moreover, she works tirelessly to advocate change for women in sports and co-leads the charge to get mixed martial arts recognized as an Olympic sport.
Jane Guo, Senior Director, Analytics & Insights, is steering one of the most important parts of our business. ONE can pride itself as a data-driven organization due to the efforts of Guo and her team. Under her leadership, the A&I team rigorously captures and analyzes complex data sets to advise senior leaders on critical business challenges. The valuable insights produced by her team not only guide overall strategy development and supercharge commercial partnerships, but they also ensure ONE continuously delivers on its most important promise — to provide world-class entertainment for our fans across the globe. Guo discovered her passion for media and entertainment during her stint at Disney, and she blazed a trail as the first data insights hire at ONE. She has since grown her team to become a key dependent for ONE’s rapid growth.
The Future For Women In Mixed Martial Arts
The female athletes and women highlighted above have all played an instrumental role in growing ONE to become a company that now ranks among the top 10 sports media properties in the world for viewership and engagement across all platforms, according to Nielsen.
ONE: EMPOWER will be a celebration of every woman in ONE Championship, from the female athletes to its staff and senior leaders. To watch the event live, check your local listings or tune in to ONE’s YouTube channel or the ONE Super App at 8:30 pm Singapore time on Friday, 3 September.
Be a part of mixed martial arts history alongside the millions of female viewers who will be tuning in to support the Women@ONE.