TNT wants combat sports fans to party like they’re watching Spike TV circa 2005. With AEW and ONE Championship coming up on Wednesday nights, it will be like a blast from the past.
For fans new to the sport of MMA, 2005 was the year of the first season of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter which began a boom in MMA’s popularity.
Airing just after WWE Raw on Monday nights, this programming schedule allowed for audience overlap between pro wrestling and MMA fans. Over 15 years later, TNT recently made a similar decision.
Beginning in April 2021, ONE Championship will air a four-episode series called ONE on TNT following All Elite Wrestling Dynamite on Wednesdays.
The show will air for a period of four consecutive weeks starting April 7. ONE announced that the show will air during prime time in the U.S. There is no word yet on the long-term future of ONE on TNT but ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said a statement this is the first season of the show — seeming to indicate this won’t be just a limited series.
ONE signed a three-year U.S. television deal with Turner Sports in late 2018. The deal includes airing 24 events on all Turner Sports platforms, including B/R Live and, most notably, TNT which began with a card on Jan. 19, 2019, in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The promotion said on its website late last month, “Each ONE on TNT event will feature three preliminary card bouts that can be digitally streamed on the B/R App and B/R Live at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST). The three main card bouts will be televised exclusively on TNT following the conclusion of AEW Dynamite at 10:00 PM EST.”
Here’s what to expect in April:
ONE on TNT I (April 7)
- A world championship bout between ONE flyweight world champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes and ONE flyweight world Grand Prix champion, former UFC flyweight champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
- Former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez faces No. 2 ranked contender Iuri Lapicus.
ONE on TNT II (April 14)
- ONE lightweight champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee faces No. 3 ranked contender Timofey Nastyukhin in the main event.
ONE on TNT III (April 21)
- Former ONE middleweight world champion Vitaly Bigdash and former middleweight champion and current ONE light heavyweight world champion Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang’s trilogy bout serves as this card’s main event.
ONE on TNT IV’s details are yet to be announced but the season finale goes down on April 28. AEW’s Dynamite began airing on TNT in October 2019, earning praise from wrestling fans and WarnerMedia executives alike. AEW has frequently beaten WWE NXT in television ratings and key demographics since Dynamite launched.
AEW will get an additional hour of programming aside from Dynamite, in the future. In a bit of good fun following the announcement of ONE on TNT, former UFC champion and ONE’s Vitor Belfort wants both an MMA bout and pro-wrestling match with former AEW world champion Chris Jericho.
Belfort recently told the South China Morning Post, “With myself being with ONE, and on the same network, I think it’s time for Tony Khan to give me Jericho, and I can whip Jericho’s butt. We can really make that fight happen.
“It’s gonna be phenomenal. Think about me and Chris Jericho doing a ONE fight and going over there, imagine how many fans wanna see that – him making his debut in ONE, and me making my debut in AEW.”
Jericho responded on Twitter in a fashion expected of a 30-year pro wrestling veteran.
Before ONE on TNT, The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition airs in Asia beginning in March. No U.S. broadcast details were published by Variety as the show will air outside of Asia starting in June.
The Feb. 5 Variety report said, “Athletes confirmed to make appearances on the show include martial arts legends Georges St-Pierre and Renzo Gracie, and former One Championship alumni Ben Askren, Brandon Vera, Angela Lee, Demetrious Johnson, Xiong Jing Nan, Indian wrestling champion Ritu Phogat, and Karate world champion, Sage Northcutt.”