The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the most prominent mixed martial arts promotion in the West, while ONE Championship is the top promotion in Asia. In truth, both promotions are more evenly matched than most people think, given that some of the best fighters from the UFC who have transitioned to ONE Championship, like Demetrious Johnson, have had their share of adversity fighting in Asia.
This article will explore some of the best UFC fighters who have transitioned to ONE Championship and how they’ve adjusted.
Seven UFC Fighters Moved Over To ONE Championship
Let’s dive right into our list of UFC fighters who have crossed over to ONE Championship:
1) Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson
Demetrious Johnson (DJ) from the EVOLVE Fight Team is arguably the pound-for-pound best MMA fighter to ever step inside a cage, yet many casual MMA fans don’t even know who he is. You can blame the Western obsession with big, muscular heavyweights for some of that since fighters in the lighter weight classes often don’t get the respect they deserve.
You can also blame the fact that UFC president Dana White didn’t seem impressed with Johnson’s many accomplishments inside the Octagon because he didn’t generate the pay-per-view numbers that other champions like Conor McGregor did.
Johnson got his first taste of UFC gold when he defeated Joseph Benavidez for the promotion’s inaugural flyweight title 19 fights into his pro MMA career in 2011. One of the most impressive title runs in mixed martial arts history followed, with Johnson successfully defending his belt 11 times.
DJ’s luck eventually ran out when he faced Henry Cejudo for a second time at UFC 227, losing a controversial split decision. What followed was even more shocking as the UFC traded Johnson to ONE Championship in return for Ben Askren, the first trade between the two top MMA promotions.
Johnson didn’t miss a beat when he started fighting for ONE Championship, winning his first three fights. Unfortunately for him, things didn’t go as planned when he got his first opportunity to claim the ONE Flyweight Championship belt at ONE on TNT 1, getting knocked out via knees by Adriano Moraes.
The Mighty Mouse got some payback when the two collided at ONE on Prime Video 1 for a title rematch. He finished Moraes with a knee in the fourth round, winning his first title with ONE Championship.
2) Eddie Alvarez
Alvarez is another former UFC champion who transitioned to ONE Championship. He decided to sign with ONE a few fights after losing the lightweight title to Conor McGregor. However, Alvarez’s transition to Asia hasn’t been as smooth as he might have hoped.
He lost his first fight in the promotion to Timofey Nastyukhin, getting knocked out in the first round. The loss also disproved the notion that the level of competition in the Ultimate Fighting Championship was significantly higher than the competition in ONE Championship.
Alvarez has only won one of his first four fights under ONE Championship’s banner, and he’s been unable to put together consecutive wins in the promotion.
3) Arjan Bhullar
Bhullar is one of the most decorated wrestlers in mixed martial arts, winning many medals competing as a freestyle wrestler. He won three of his four fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship before signing with ONE Championship.
Arjan was given an opportunity to fight for their title after winning his ONE Championship debut. He defeated another former UFC fighter, Brandon Vera, to become the promotion’s heavyweight champion.
4) John Lineker
Lineker made a name for himself as one of the most powerful punchers in the bantamweight division during his days with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. That earned him the nickname “Hands of Stone.” Lineker scored impressive wins against many of the top bantamweights in the world, like Rob Font, John Dodson, and Marlon Vera fighting in the UFC.
Lineker signed with ONE Championship after his UFC contract ran out in 2019. He’s won his three fights fighting under their banner, all via knockout. His last knockout earned him the ONE Bantamweight Championship belt.
Northcutt had a lot of hype behind him when he signed a contract with the UFC. He sported a 5-0 record and was the youngest fighter the promotion had signed at the time. Northcutt faced some adversity in the UFC, but he did better than many people expected, winning six out of his eight fights with the promotion.
Sage signed with ONE Championship in 2019, but things didn’t go well for him during his debut fight at ONE Championship: Enter the Dragon. He got knocked out for the first time in his MMA career, losing in the first round. Northcutt was scheduled to fight Shinya Aoki next, but he pulled out of the fight due to Covid restrictions.
6) Brandon Vera
Vera had a long run in the UFC and established himself as one of the best fighters in the promotion’s light-heavyweight division. Vera was actually the big test given to Jon “Bones” Jones as the latter rose through the ranks.
Vera became one of the first UFC fighters to sign with ONE Championship when he signed a contract with the promotion in 2014. He made a massive statement during his debut, knocking out Igor Subora. The victory earned him a shot at the promotion’s heavyweight title. He defeated Paul Cheng via knockout at ONE: Spirit of Champions to become the ONE Heavyweight Champion.
Brandon successfully defended the belt twice, winning both fights via knockout. He then moved down to the light-heavyweight division to challenge for the belt but lost to Aung La Nsang. Vera then lost the heavyweight belt when he defended it against Arjan Bhullar.
7) Yushin Okami
Okami fought in all the major mixed martial arts promotions like PRIDE FC, WEC, WSOF, and UFC before signing with ONE Championship. He enjoyed a long run in the UFC, defeating big-name fighters like Hector Lombard, Mark Munoz, and Nate Marquardt.
Yushin even climbed the rankings and earned a title shot at Anderson Silva (who he defeated once via DQ). Silva defeated him via knockout in the second round of their rematch. Okami signed with ONE Championship in 2019. He’s won one of his three fights with the promotion.
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