Cross-promotion super fights aren’t a new concept in the world of mixed martial arts. In fact, it has been done before.
UFC legend Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell was once sent to the now-defunct Pride FC back in the day and came away with mixed results. More recently, Rizin FF sent Kyoji Horiguchi to take on Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell in 2019, with the former winning the belt.
History has proven that if there’s enough fan clamor, anything is possible. Could these fan-first spectacles make a comeback? ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong seems to think so.
In fact, the Chairman and CEO of the world’s largest martial arts organization was quoted weeks ago saying he was open to a massive UFC vs ONE Championship mega event, where he would be willing to put his martial arts heroes up against the UFC’s elite.
It’s certainly a salivating proposition. Getting to see Asia’s top fighters against the best in the west, it’s a fantastic idea but a dream nonetheless. Let’s take a look at some potential matches.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five UFC vs ONE Championship super fights fans want to see.
1) Christian Lee vs Charles Oliveira
They represent the two best lightweights from the East and West. Christian Lee, younger brother to women’s MMA star Angela Lee, is the reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion, while Oliveira is the newly crowned UFC Lightweight World Champion.
At just 23 years of age, Lee is one of the most incredible young fighters in the world today. He captured the lightweight belt in 2019 and has defended it successfully on three occasions since. He’s all but cleared out the top five in the ONE lightweight division.
Oliveira, on the other hand, hasn’t lost since 2018 and is on a nine-fight winning streak. In May this year, Oliveira knocked out former Bellator titleholder Michael Chandler in two rounds to capture UFC gold.
If they were to meet in the cage, it would be a battle between two well-rounded competitors to determine the best lightweight in the world today.
2) Angela Lee vs Rose Namajunas
Christian’s older sibling, Angela Lee, has held the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title since 2016 and has established herself as one of the biggest stars in Asia. She is arguably the face of ONE Championship and a worthy champion.
Meanwhile, “Thug” Rose Namajunas is fresh off a spectacular performance against Zhang Weili in April. Among Namajunas’ most impressive performances include victories over Paige VanZant, Tecia Torres, Michelle Waterson, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Jessica Andrade.
While Namajunas’ resume certainly carries more weight than Lee’s, the disparity in talent isn’t as wide as some may think. Lee’s mastery of grappling is as good as it gets. If Namajunas can keep the fight standing, she may have the advantage. But once the action hits the canvas, it’s Lee’s world through and through.
This matchup definitely showcases the classic power struggle between striker and grappler.
3) Reinier De Ridder vs Israel Adesanya
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Reinier De Ridder is ONE Championship’s middleweight and light heavyweight champion. Israel Adesanya tried to become a double-champ himself but failed in his bid, losing by unanimous decision last March to Jan Blachowicz.
Talk about striker versus grappler, there isn’t a more interesting matchup than these two right here.
Adesanya is arguably the most talented striker in all of mixed martial arts today. “The Last Stylebender” has 15 knockouts out of 21 career victories. Only those who blatantly refuse to engage with Adesanya have gone the distance with him. Usually, guys who are willing to trade get caught and finished.
De Ridder, conversely, has nine submissions out of 14 wins, in addition to three knockouts. Only two of De Ridder’s foes have reached the final bell with him. De Ridder’s favorite submission is the rear-naked choke. Opponents who go to the mat with him have a tough time getting up, and not even Adesanya would be able to escape his web of ground attacks.
The question is, can De Ridder bring Adesanya into his grappling wheelhouse?
4) Demetrious Johnson vs Brandon Moreno
Newly minted UFC Flyweight World Champion Brandon Moreno is one of the most amazing, young fighters today. His journey through the UFC flyweight ranks has certainly been awe-inspiring. There isn’t much not to like about the 27-year-old Mexican MMA champion.
But many feel the best flyweight in the world is still Demetrious Johnson, and for good reason. For a very long time, Johnson ruled the UFC flyweight ranks with an iron fist. In March 2019, Johnson made his ONE Championship debut and dominated early.
Yes, Johnson did fail in his bid to lift the ONE Flyweight World Title from Adriano Moraes this past April. But there is no doubt he will be well on his way back to another crack at ONE gold soon.
Johnson surely has way more experience than Moreno and would be the favorite coming into the bout if it were to happen. Then again, a Moraes versus Moreno battle is also a fun one.
5) Thanh Le vs Alexander Volkanovski
Last but not least are featherweights Thanh Le and Alexander Volkanovski.
After capturing the ONE Featherweight World Title last October against former Aussie champion Martin Nguyen, Le has had to deal with an injured hand, which includes undergoing repeated surgeries. Many speculate his first challenger to be none other than American grappling superstar Garry Tonon. Assuming Le can get healthy, expect that matchup soon.
On the other side of the fence, Volkanovski has been featherweight champ since beating Max Holloway in December 2019. He beat Holloway again in a rematch in July of 2020. The awesome Australian is well-rounded and packs a lot of heat in his fists.
Both Le and Volkanovski are tremendous strikers, and this fight would no doubt produce fireworks. It’s a true fan fight, and one that will not disappoint if it happens.
Le’s taekwondo style makes him elusive and hard to hit. He is dangerous in any position. But Volkanovski is tough. Even an experienced veteran like Holloway couldn’t take him out. It’s one of those fights that have to be settled in the cage rather than on paper.
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