East vs West: ONE Championship pitches head-to-head with UFC’s best
MANILA, Philippines – ONE Championship heralds that its champions have what it takes to be pitted against the best that the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) has to offer, and its head honcho Chatri Sityodtong is adamant about working with another organization to stage a cross-promotional extravaganza.
The Singapore-based promotion has achieved tremendous success since its inception in 2011, establishing itself as the sport’s frontrunner in Asia.
As fruitful as ONE Championship has been in the region, Sityodtong admitted that he is still aware of his company’s counterparts on the other side of the globe, including the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Sityodtong proposed an inter-promotion event that will pit ONE Championship’s biggest names against the UFC’s top-tier athletes.
“I would definitely love to see the best of the East versus the best of the West. UFC versus ONE Championship,” he said.
“I think it would be phenomenal, I think the whole entire world would watch it, and I’d love to see world champions versus world champions, so definitely, for sure, I’m open to it,” Sityodtong added.
MMA was pioneered by UFC in North America as it spearheaded the craze all over the continent with a no-holds-barred clash of combat disciplines during its formative years.
The UFC played a pivotal role in making MMA reach the mainstream audience, transforming into a television staple that is celebrated by millions of fans today.
The Las Vegas-headquartered outfit has given a platform to some of the greatest to ever wear four-ounce gloves, including Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes.
On the other hand, ONE Championship has its own all-star roster, bolstering its ranks by signing notable names in the sport such as Demetrious Johnson, Bibiano Fernandes, Brandon Vera, Shinya Aoki and John Lineker.
Aside from housing legends like Vitor Belfort and Yoshihiro Akiyama, ONE Championship has likewise been pivotal in the development of local and homegrown talents like the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang, Singapore’s Angela Lee and Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang.
It has been documented on numerous occasions that UFC president Dana White has been very reluctant to work with other promotions.
The UFC only dabbled in a cross-promotion once many years ago when Liddell competed in the now-defunct Pride Fighting Championships’ 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament.
Liddell, one of the biggest UFC stars at that time, defeated Alistair Overeem by knockout in the quarterfinals before he succumbed to a stoppage loss at the hands of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the semifinal round.
Speaking on the Weighing In podcast with Josh Thomson, renowned referee John McCarthy believes that White’s hesitance could be attributed to Liddell’s disappointing defeat to Jackson.
“Dana got ripped, and I don’t blame him. Dana got ripped when he was first president of the UFC, by Pride, in giving over Chuck Liddell to Pride and then didn’t get anything back. He said, ‘I’m never going to do that again.’ And unfortunately, he stuck to it,” McCarthy stated.
“Now he’s stuck to it to the point where he looks at it like, ‘Why am I going to damage my product if I put a fighter out of my stable up against a fighter from another stable and he loses, it just damages my product there’s no reason to do that.’ I don’t blame him,” the referee-turned-analyst continued.
There is a fair possibility that the UFC could explore this particular idea in the immediate future as Bellator and Rizin Fighting Federation are enjoying the benefits of talent sharing through their partnership. Both leagues worked together in hosting back-to-back events in Japan this past December.
Sityodtong is confident that anyone in ONE Championship’s locker room, especially its titleholders, can go face-to-face with every combatant from the UFC.
The Thai-Japanese entrepreneur even suggested a showdown between ONE Championship’s strawweight queen Xiong Jing Nan and the UFC’s female 115-pound champion Weili Zhang.
“For women’s mixed martial arts, I would love to see Xiong Jing Nan versus Weili Zhang. I think Xiong is the one to beat Zhang,” Sityodtong declared.
Vera, who parted ways with the UFC in 2014 and then joined ONE Championship, is delighted over Sityodtong’s open invitation to the UFC for a cross-promotional venture.
“I crave for competition. I want to compete with the best. Competition is healthy for the entire sport. I am totally up for it,” the ONE Championship heavyweight kingpin stressed. – Rappler.com