That the UFC is the world leader in MMA is an undisputed fact. And with Conor McGregor on its books, its also one of the hottest brands in all of sport today.
But ONE Championship has been steadily making waves in the Asia for a number of years now, and has only gone on from strength to strength to establish itself as a giant in the game. The acquisitions of pound for pound great Demetrious Johnson, the Underground King Eddie Alvarez and Super Sage Northcutt only further embellish that fact.
Both promotions have fantastic fighters in their respective stables. But with brand consciousness a top priority with promotions like the UFC and ONE today, the fans will likely never get to see the best in ONE take on the best in the UFC.
Sure, we may get to see fighters from one promotion sign on with the other once their contracts are up or, in rare cases like that of DJ and Ben Askren, swap promotions when it is conducive for all parties, but it’s rather unlikely that we see ONE send their Champions to fight against UFC’s Champions or vice versa.
On that basis, we thought we’d get into a spot of fantasy matchmaking. Here are 5 inter-promotional match ups that MMA fans would dearly like to see.
Bibiano Fernandes vs TJ Dillashaw
Bibiano Fernandes remained undefeated for 8 years in ONE’s bantamweight division and defended the Title a whooping seven times, before losing the rematch to Kevin Belingon earlier this year. But he is, by far, considered to be the staple of the 135 pound division in the promotion.
It would be hugely interesting to see how he matches up with his counterpart in the UFC’s bantamweight division, TJ Dillashaw. Barring one extremely close split decision loss to Dominick Cruz, TJ’s run at Bantamweight has been peerless.
This would be a humdinger of a contest.
Angela Lee vs Rose Namajunas
ONE Atomweight Women’s Champion Angela Lee is arguably the biggest star in the promotion and is also undefeated in her professional MMA career – submitting 7 of her 9 opponents.
Although UFC Straw weight queen Rose Namajunas fights at a higher weight class, a fight between them would present an intriguing stylistic match up. Lee does most of her best work in the grappling department while Namajunas is as well rounded as they come – able to engage masterfully with her opponent in any discipline.
Who will manage to drag the other out of their comfort zone during the fight? Only one way to find out.
Aung LA Nsang vs Robert Whittaker
Aung LA Nsang is one of the most well known athletes in Burma, and is also the second ever fighter to hold two Title belts in ONE Championship. After starting his professional career with a middling 12-8 record, LA Nsang really hit his stride after he turned 27, winning 10 out of his next 13 fights, with one No Contest.
Although his finishes come through a variety of means ranging from head kicks to heel hooks, LA Nsang is primarily known as the Burmese constrictor because of his grappling prowess – something that offers an enticing matchup with the UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker’s current skillset.
Whittaker’s sprawling and brawling is a throwback to the old Chuck Liddell days (not the one who fought Tito recently) and Aung LA Nsang’s well rounded approach would really test him.
Martin Nguyen vs Max Holloway
This is probably the most intriguing match up on this list as Martin Nguyen is a trailblazer in ONE Championship, becoming the first man to win titles in two divisions. However, in a record breaking attempt to win the third title at 135, Martin fell short against none other than Bibiano Fernandes.
However, Nguyen is a finisher in the truest sense of the word, ending 5 of his 11 victories in the first round and 4 in the second. Max Holloway on the other hand is one of the most dominant champions in the UFC today, racking up an incredible 12 wins on the trot.
Both men are blood and guts fighters and should put on an absolute spectacle if they ever get it on.
Demetrious Johnson vs Henry Cejudo 3
Now this fight may appear as though it made it onto this list through a technicality (it did, albeit it being a rather large technicality), but every fight fan wants to see Henry Cejudo and Demetrious Johnson run back their fight for the third time.
The first time these two fought, DJ dispatched Cejudo with ease in the first round but the Olympic gold medallist wouldn’t take the loss lying down, and returned to challenge the then-UFC Flyweight Champion 2 years later – this time successfully.
It was an extremely close fight by Cejudo proved that he absolutely belongs in the rarefied air that DJ exists in. And now that Johnson has signed on with ONE Championship, we’ll gladly use that as an excuse if it means we can match these two flyweight phenoms up again.