Cross-promotion mixed martial arts fights were more common during the sport’s early days, but they slowly turned into a relic of MMA‘s early years. Fortunately, the tide seems to be slowly turning. For example, major promotions like Bellator and Rizin have cross-promoted fights recently, and both organizations are eager to see more of that in mixed martial arts.
A significant obstacle to cross-promoting fights is the fact that one of the largest MMA promotions, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), seems reluctant to work with other organizations. That’s ironic since the UFC had no problem cross-promoting fights when PRIDE FC was the world’s most prominent mixed martial arts organization. Cross-promotion fights like Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson helped the UFC to establish their brand.
“That’s really up to them,” Bellator president Scott Coker said regarding the UFC’s reluctance to cross-promote fights. “That hasn’t been their business model but listen, if they want to get it on, we’re here.”
The truth is major organizations like the UFC are incentivized not to promote their smaller competitors. The UFC has many of the biggest names in the sport with an established fanbase, so they have less to gain with cross-promotion events. These things often benefit the smaller organization more, especially when their guys win the events.
However, many would say the benefits of cross-promotion events outweigh the risks. For example, the UFC cross-promoted with Showtime Boxing for the super-fight featuring Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. That fight sold more pay-per-views than any other fight featuring an MMA fighter, selling almost 5 million PPVs. That also made it one of the biggest fights in boxing history.
The moral of the story: everyone connected to the Mayweather vs. McGregor super-fight did well for themselves. Showtime made a few hundred million dollars, the UFC made over 50 million dollars for not doing much, Conor made over 100 million dollars, and Mayweather cleared over 300 million. The fight also turned some boxing fans into MMA fans and vice versa.
Hopefully, the biggest MMA promoters in the world will make more effort to build events with each other moving forward.
Dream Cross-Promotion Fights MMA Fans Crave
Now that we’ve gone over how cross-promoting fights can benefit MMA promotions let’s take a look at some of the dream matchups MMA fans would love to see.
1) Israel Adesanya Vs. Reinier De Ridder
Adesanya has emerged as one of the biggest stars in the UFC. With over 35 kickboxing bouts under his belt, Adesanya is one of the most technically gifted strikers in MMA history. Israel is currently undefeated as a middleweight and has already successfully defended the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight belt five times during his reign. Adesanya’s only loss in mixed martial arts was to Jan Błachowicz when he moved up a weight class to challenge for the light-heavyweight belt.
Ridder’s MMA career has been just as impressive. He’s even succeeded in areas Adesanya has failed. Ridder currently sports a 16-0 professional MMA record, and he’s the reigning ONE Championship middleweight and light-heavyweight champion. He’s successfully defended the middleweight belts twice and is yet to defend the light-heavyweight title.
A super-fight featuring Adesanya and Ridder would allow MMA fans to watch two of the best middleweights in the world compete in their primes. It also gives us a classic grappler vs. striker matchup since Ridder is known for his high-level submission game, while Adesanya is known for his striking and incredible takedown defense.
2) Zhang Weili Vs. Xiong Jing Nan
These two women have already left their permanent marks on mixed martial arts history. Jing Nan was the first Chinese MMA fighter to win a major promotion’s title, while Weili is the first Chinese national to win a UFC championship.
Both women come from striking backgrounds, and a super-fight featuring these two would be a treat for MMA fans. Both fighters have emerged as the face of Chinese mixed martial arts, so a super-fight between the two would crown one as the queen of Chinese martial arts.
Both women have already cleaned out their respective divisions, which makes a bout between the two more interesting. Zhang has beaten everyone in her division besides Rose Namajunas (who’s defeated her twice), while Jing Nan has successfully defended the ONE Championship strawweight title six times. It’s one of the biggest women’s fights you can make right now, especially if Weili can reclaim the UFC’s strawweight title. She’s set to face the current champ Carla Esparza next, and oddsmakers have her as a -280 favorite.
3) Kamaru Usman Vs. Yaroslav Amosov
Usman (20-2-0) has emerged as one of the most dominant welterweight champions in history. Before his recent loss to Leon Edwards, many believe he’s good enough to surpass Georges St-Pierre’s record of 9 successful title defenses.
Usman transitioned to mixed martial arts after a successful amateur wrestling career, and his grappling was his most significant weapon in his early days. However, Usman has dedicated lots of time working on his striking, and it’s been paying off, with knockout wins against Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Gilbert Burns.
Amosov comes from a combat Sambo background, with four gold medals at international tournaments under his belt. Amosov sports a 26-0 MMA record, and he secured Bellator’s middleweight title in his last outing against Douglas Lima. He’s a well-rounded fighter who looks to finish his opponents, with most of his wins coming via knockout or submission (9 and 10, respectively).
A fight between Usman and Amosov would be evenly matched, and it would be the toughest test both men have faced in their mixed martial arts careers.
4) Adriano Moraes Vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Moraes shocked the world when he became the first man to finish Demetrious Johnson inside the cage. Perhaps the win shouldn’t have been that shocking, given how impressive the three-time ONE Championship flyweight champion had been inside the cage.
Figueiredo has been just as impressive, with wins against names like Joseph Benavidez under his belt. A fight between these two would establish who the best flyweight in the world is.
You may also like: