Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE championship’s CEO Chatri Sityodtong has recently stated his interest in promoting a crossover “Mega Event” with the UFC.[1]

Whilst the stubborn attitude of UFC president Dana White in relation to anything resembling promotion of ‘competitors’ forestalls the likelihood of such an event, that does not prevent us hypothesizing what its card would look like.

A little suspension of disbelief is required here, as the creation of such a dream card consisting of so many superstars would be the culmination of copious negotiation as well as luck regarding injury and fighter timelines. Regardless, were a one-time super event ever to take place, these are the fights that we here at MMA Island believe would bridge the gap between East and West in the MMA world and concurrently line the pockets of both the UFC and ONE.

UFC vs ONE Championship: MMA's global duopoly renewing rivalry in the  Covid-19 era | Asian MMA
Credit: Asianmma.com

135 lbs Muay Thai bout: Rodtang Jitmuangnon (267-42-10) vs Jose Aldo (29-7 MMA)

We begin this star-studded card taking a page out of ONE’s formatting, perhaps unfamiliar to some UFC fans with the amalgamation of Muay Thai and MMA bouts on the same card. And who better to encapsulate what Muay Thai in ONE FC is all about than colourful Flyweight ONE Muay Thai Champion (note FLW is 135 lbs in ONE) Rodtang Jitmuangnon? On the other side of the bill No.4 ranked Bantamweight Jose Aldo- a Brazilian phenom and former UFC Featherweight Champion known for his vicious Muay Thai striking within MMA. This matchup would be guaranteed striking action to start the card off with a bang as Rodtang’s iron chin, refusal to take a back-step and lightning-quick kicks clash with ‘Junior’s crisp, powerful boxing and destructive low-kicks. Furthermore, the shortened bout duration of a Muay Thai rule set would help to bring the best out of Aldo, who in recent years has arguably been seen to fade somewhat in later rounds, expending his best power shots early on.

5 Reasons Rodtang Is Muay Thai's Most Dangerous Fighter
Credit: ONE Championship

155 lbs MMA bout: Garry Tonon (6-0) vs Charles Oliveira (31-8)

Following the striking battle to open the card, we have quite a contrasting fun bout between two of the world’s best grapplers. A decorated Jiu-Jitsu player with world championships in both Gi and No-Gi competition, New Jersey’s Garry Tonon made the transition to MMA in 2018. All 6 of Tonon’s professional bouts have taken place in ONE FC, and he presents a dangerous proposition to any opponent, with 5 finishes (3 submissions, 2 TKO’s) out of those 6 wins earning him his no.3 ranking in ONE’s Featherweight (155) division. Yet, there would be no sterner test (excluding any retired dagestani destroyers) than the UFC’s reigning Lightweight champion, Charles ‘Dubronx’ Oliveira. Undoubtedly Oliveira would have a significant advantage in the stand-up in this, however Tonon’s grappling credentials would pose an interesting dynamic in a fight with ‘Dubronx’, an elite BJJ black belt in his own right. Whilst this matchup could equally be contested under straight BJJ ruleset, an MMA bout could provide answers to the thus far unanswered question of whether Tonon’s grappling skillset would be enough to hang with the best Mixed Martial Artists in the world.

115 lbs MMA bout: Angela Lee (10-2) vs Rose Namajunas (10-4)

The first of three Champion vs Champion bouts for this proposed dream card takes place between the respective female champions of each promotion at 115 lbs. Evolve MMA star Angela Lee became MMA’s youngest ever world champion in 2016, defeating Mei Yamaguchi to win the vacant ONE Atomweight Championship at just 19 years of age, which she has since defended 4 times either side of a failed attempt to become a two-weight champion in ONE. Mega-popular two-time UFC Strawweight Champion ‘Thug Rose’ Namajunas has captured the hearts and minds of fans across the MMA community in her career thus far through her down-to-earth persona and exciting, well-rounded fighting style. Namajunas has clean technical striking, founded in neat footwork and punctuated by real one-shot knockout power (as seen with her high-profile 1st Round KO’s of former champions Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Weili Zhang), and rounds this off with aggressive offensive grappling, earning half of her pro career wins by submission. Whilst ‘Thug Rose’ would likely go into this bout a strong betting favourite, Lee also has a well-rounded skillset which would provide intrigue to the matchup: a strong BJJ black belt with 7 of her 10 career wins coming in a variety of submissions (including a rare twister), Lee also holds a black belt in Taekwondo and is not afraid to trade shots on the feet. Both women possess relatively high finishing rates for the weight class, and the dynamic nature of their respective skillsets would make this matchup a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

135 lbs MMA bout (ONE ruleset): Adriano Moraes (19-3) vs Petr Yan (15-2)

In our ‘Co-Co-Main Event’ of the card we pit the current ONE champion at 135 lbs Adriano ‘Mikhino’ Moraes against the former UFC Bantamweight Champ Piotr Yan. Similarities can be drawn between the pairings’ respective last forays into the cage, with both fights ending with knees to downed opponents. However, under the ONE rules, ‘Mikhino’’s finishing blow to his floored opponent- all-time great Demetrious Johnson- was completely legal. Contrastingly, one month earlier, Piotr Yan was disqualified from his title defense against Aljamain Sterling for throwing a similar strike whilst Sterling was knelt on the mat. Thus, to avoid any strange circular outcomes in this bout (the MMA gods work in strange ways), this bout would be contested under a ONE ruleset, allowing both men to knee to the hearts content. Moraes overcame significant odds to win this aforementioned fight with Johnson, going in as a whopping +460 underdog, and would likely be in a similar position in this fight. Would his dangerous BJJ and dynamic striking be enough to overcome the odds against the aggressive forward pressure boxing game of the Tiger Muay Thai standout as well? ‘No Mercy’ has torn through the competition in his 8 fights since he joined the UFC in 2018, with convincing victories over long-time divisional stalwarts such as Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson, and furthermore finishing legends like Urijah Faber and the great Jose Aldo on his way to capturing gold. However, there is a case to be made that Moraes would present Yan with his toughest test to date, making a fight worthy of headlining any card.

ONE on TNT video: Adriano Moraes upsets Demetrious Johnson with brutal  second-round knockout to retain title - MMA Fighting
Credit: MMAFighting.com

205 lbs MMA bout: Reinier de Ridder (14-0) vs Jan Blachowicz (28-8)

The Co-Main Event plays host to the second Champion vs Champion clash of this mega card. An all-European affair, on one side of the bill we have ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion, Reinier ‘The Dutch Knight’ de Ridder, matching up with the UFC’s own Light Heavyweight Champion, 38-year-old Pole Jan Blachowicz. The undefeated de Ridder stands at an imposing 6’4”, and combines a variety of tricky Judo throws and more conventional wrestling techniques to get his opponents to the mat, where he smothers them with suffocating top game and constantly threatens submissions, having earned 9 of his 14 victories with a plethora of chokes. Blachowicz himself however is no slouch on the mat, with his own respective BJJ black belt, and 9 submission victories of his own. In his recent run to the UFC title though, it has been Jan’s ‘legendary Polish power’ that has shone through, earning ‘performance of the night’ victories with devastating knockouts over Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson and finally Dominick Reyes when he captured the title back in September. Coming off the back of his win against UFC Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya in March, Blachowicz is looking better and more dangerous than ever before, and possesses all the tools and experience to give de Ridder a very rough night at the office. Despite this, the mystique surrounding undefeated fighters (especially a two-weight champion such as RDR) and the grappling acumen of ‘The Dutch Knight’ provide enough intrigue to sell this clash and thus earn its spot as Co-Main on our ‘Mega Card’.

135 lbs MMA Bout: Henry Cejudo (16-2) vs Demetrious Johnson (30-4-1) III

Headlining the bill we have a trilogy fight consisting of two of the biggest stars in MMA; whilst Cejudo is officially ‘retired’ since his victory over former UFC bantamweight champion and commentator Dominick Cruz, he is still only 34 years old, so if he was to come back for one last big payday, what better stage than a rubber match with one of the greatest of all time on a crossover super card like no other? ‘Mighty Mouse’ is arguably the biggest name ONE possess on their roster, and is the only man to have stopped ‘Triple C’ in his career. Tied at 1 a piece after their razor-thin decision in 2018 (Johnson’s last fight in the UFC before that fateful trade with ONE for Ben Askren), this fight has a natural appeal and storyline that would not be hard to market for either promotion. Johnson, coming off a brutal KO loss to the aforementioned Adriano Moraes, would be looking to assert his legacy as one of MMA’s greats by defeating ‘The Messenger’, and furthermore proving that ONE has fighters who can hang with the best in the UFC, oft considered by many fans as the premier pool of talent in MMA. Whilst their previous two fights were contested at 125 lbs, ‘Mighty Mouse’ has exclusively fought at 135 lbs since moving to ONE, and a bulkier Cejudo has also dismissed ideas of returning to 125, even at one point entertaining another move up to 145 for a super fight with UFC Featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.[2] Thus, this huge rubber match would be contested at 135 lbs, and no doubt would be one of the biggest fights in MMA history, more than appropriate for headlining such a hypothetical dream crossover event such as this.

They said what?! Pros react to Henry Cejudo's upset win over Demetrious  Johnson at UFC 227 - Bloody Elbow
Credit: bloodyelbow.com

[1] Instagram, ‘onechampionship’ < https://www.instagram.com/p/CPNvYg0tyZ4/> accessed 23.05.21.

[2] Bleacher Report, ‘Henry Cejudo Says He’d Unretire to Fight UFC Champion Alexander Volkanovski’, T.Rapp < https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2895257-henry-cejudo-says-hed-unretire-to-fight-ufc-champion-alexander-volkanovski> accessed: 08.06.2020.

By Joe Burn

Aspiring MMA journalist writing out of the UK.

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