UFC vs ONE Championship? ONE chief says bring it on
A rare treat could be in store for fight fans: two global competitions pitting their mixed martial artists against each other in a battle for supremacy. This has only happened a handful of times in the sports history, despite massive interest from hardcore and casual fans alike.
But ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong has long campaigned for the idea, and wants to put his martial arts heroes up against the UFC's best fighters.
ONE Championship's official Twitter account recently shared a quote from Sityodtong that had fans buzzing.
Sityodtong said: "I would definitely welcome a ONE vs UFC mega event."
In a follow-up tweet, ONE Championship tagged UFC President Dana White, issuing the challenge. The tweet read: "Who wants it? Trophy @yodchatri @danawhite @ufc #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship #ONEVsUFC."
The UFC is the largest mixed martial arts promotion in North America, while ONE Championship is its equivalent in Asia, so a co-promotion ticks all boxes from a competition and business standpoint.
Sityodtong has said for years that a clash between the two largest martial arts organisations from each side of the world makes absolute sense. In fact, he believes ONE Championship athletes would not only give UFC fighters a run for their money, they would dominate and win.
"I would definitely like to see the best of the East vs the best of the West," Sityodtong told media through a Facebook live Q&A in 2020.
"UFC vs ONE Championship I think would be phenomenal. I think the whole entire world would watch it. And I'd love to see world champions vs world champions. So definitely, for sure, I'm open to it."
It has also become incredibly clear that ONE Championship's elite roster of martial artists has been greatly underestimated. The organisation's list of more than 500 fighters, including world champions from various martial arts disciplines, is packed with killers across all weight divisions.
That fact became even more clear last month, during ONE Championship's American prime time stint on TNT.
The four-part event series saw former UFC lightweight king Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez fumble with a controversial disqualification loss to top-ranked ONE lightweight Iuri Lapicus. He returned to fight weeks later, and lost a unanimous decision to rangy South Korean Ok Rae Yoon.
Twelve-time former UFC Flyweight World Champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, suffered the first knockout loss of his career in a failed world title bid against reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes.
While former UFC stars like Arjan Bhullar and John Lineker have done well in ONE, the fact remains that most UFC fighters who have joined ONE since 2018 have struggled. A handful have lost by stoppage, and nearly all of them have lost at least once overall.
This includes setbacks for Yushin Okami and Yoshihiro Akiyama, as well as Sage Northcutt's debilitating knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre in 2019.
Christian Lee versus Charles Oliveira to determine the world's best lightweight? A clash between top flyweights Adriano Moraes and Deivison Figureido? Chinese strawweight queen Xiong Jing Nan against newly-minted champion Rose Namajunas? The list goes on and on.
One thing is for certain, a UFC vs ONE showdown is an enticing prospect that should be explored.