When ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong revealed last year that rising star and atomweight champion Angela Lee was making more than Cris Cyborg or Joanna Jedrzejczyk, it might have surprised a few.
However, speaking to IBTimes UK in an exclusive interview, Sityodtong said the pay scale was almost similar to the UFC, barring that of a few stars.
"I think our pay scale is comparable to the UFC," Sityodtong said. "Except for three or four fighters [in the UFC], it is roughly the same based on experience level and skill level."
With the payscale what it is and considering there are many disgruntled UFC fighters right now particularly in the middleweight division, ONE Championship are always keeping tabs on potential new recruits.
The organisation is also more than capable of attracting some of the best fighters to the eastern hemisphere, even if the UFC are after them, he added.
"Yeah, I mean that's how we got [welterweight champion] Ben Askren and [bantamweight champion] Bibiano Fernandes," he said. "Both of them were in discussions with the UFC and they chose ONE. So we're always on the lookout for new stars."
However, it is not just talent that the Asian MMA promotion are looking for. That is exemplified by Sityodtong's past statement that he would never offer Conor McGregor a contract. It is imperative that a fighter resonates with the Asian fanbase and displays values such as honour and humility: "They [future fighters] have to exhibit the right values. We really care about the Asian audience and what they look for. Seventy percent of our roster also comes from Asia."
That is also one of the reasons ONE, which Sityodtong calls "a celebration of martial arts", will never be interested in the cocky Irishman or trouble-maker and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. However, welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre is a different story.
"We are very selective," Sityodtong explained. "Most UFC stars don't resonate in Asia so we are looking at stars with amazing skills but also the values that really connect with the Asian audience. We'd be interested in Georges St-Pierre. He's a kind, gentle martial artist who truly represents the values we're looking for."
"GSP" returned to the UFC recently after a three-year hiatus and Sityodtong revealed that if the Canadian was not under contract, ONE would have pursued him.
"He was under contract with the UFC," he added. "If he was a free agent, then yes, he's a martial artist and he truly represents our values."