Since signing with ONE Championship, ex-UFC athletes Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt have all confronted their justifiable share of struggles whereas acclimating to a brand new promotion.
The trio of fighters, who all joined the group in 2018, have amassed an general file of 4-4 with one no contest alongside the best way with three of these wins coming from Johnson’s run through the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix. In the meantime, Alvarez has a win over former ONE champion Eduard Folayang however then a TKO loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in his debut together with a unanimous determination defeat to Rae Yoon Okay in his final outing.
As for Northcutt, his ONE debut resulted in catastrophe after he suffered a number of damaged bones in his face following a first-round knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre. He hasn’t fought since then.
The excessive profile additions to the ONE roster helped the promotion increase its profile with followers primarily in the USA however the outcomes have positively been combined. Nonetheless, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong has no regrets together with his determination to signal the previous UFC fighters to his roster.
If something, Sityodtong believes the losses by distinguished UFC veterans solely proves that the promotion is full of elite athletes even when a few of their names aren’t as well-known outdoors of Asia.
“We made an funding in a number of UFC superstars like Sage, like Eddie, like D.J., like Yushin Okami, a bunch of UFC guys. They’ve all acquired knocked out,” Sityodtong informed MMA Combating. “Impolite awakening. I believe it’s only a testomony to the extent [of competition].
“I genuinely imagine that one of the best roster on the earth is ONE and the UFC relying on the load class. I do imagine the UFC has higher heavy weight courses so the heavyweight, mild heavyweight divisions however I genuinely imagine light-weight and beneath, ONE would dominate any group on the earth. We’re seeing that.”
Now it have to be famous that as a result of weight slicing rules instituted by ONE Championship that the divisions there are completely different than the counterparts in U.S. based mostly promotions just like the UFC or Bellator.
For example, flyweight title fights within the U.S. happen at 125 kilos or beneath however in an try and curb excessive weight slicing, ONE designated a 135-pound restrict for his or her flyweight division. The identical will be mentioned for each weight class throughout the promotion.
In fact, ONE nonetheless employs all the main weight courses in addition to further divisions not at the moment featured in promotions just like the UFC, which suggests a fighter like Johnson might technically compete at strawweight at 125 kilos.
That mentioned, Johnson has been adamant about not slicing all the way down to that weight once more throughout his profession and he’s downplayed the notion that he’s in some way struggled simply because he’s confronted bigger opponents in ONE.
“The largest factor from combating within the UFC to combating over in Asia, they’re simply taller,” Johnson informed MMA Combating. “In my time once I was combating within the UFC, there have been guys like Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, Kyoji Horiguchi, guys who had been about 5-foot-3, 5-foot-4. Now, Adriano [Moraes], he’s like 5-foot-9. Yuya [Wakamatsu] is like 5-foot-6 so I’m simply combating taller guys. I’ve acquired to ensure that I’m making much more effort to cross that distance.
“I believe there’s superb athletes everywhere in the world, not simply within the UFC or ONE Championship or Bellator or RIZIN. There’s so many organizations internationally that simply haven’t gotten the prospect to shine on the massive stage. That’s at all times been my viewpoint, even once I was within the UFC.”
Sityodtong understands the pure bias with regards to the UFC, particularly in the USA the place the promotion holds an iron grip over the biggest share of the MMA viewers.
That mentioned, Sityodtong doesn’t imagine that the expertise degree is all that completely different between the 2 promotions and the one proof he wants is seeing what occurred when he matched up a number of the finest fighters within the UFC in opposition to athletes in ONE.
“I do know the American media within the states covers the UFC so much, the MMA media, so American followers have a perspective that the UFC is the one factor in MMA trigger it’s in America,” Sityodtong mentioned. “Clearly, the UFC has occasions in America.
“The fact is there’s 4 and a half billion folks out right here in Asia. Virtually everybody does martial arts. The expertise pool that we will choose from is great however after all we scour the globe for the very, easiest expertise, identical to the UFC or Bellator does. On any given day, I believe it’s a toss-up and I believe we’re seeing that every time athletes crossover from completely different organizations, they don’t essentially do nicely.”
Ideally, Sityodtong would love the prospect to cross promote an occasion with the UFC to face off with struggle fights pitting one of the best of one of the best between the 2 promotions however there’s nearly no probability that may ever truly occur.
Within the meantime, Sityodtong will proceed to take pride within the roster ONE has constructed and he expects Johnson, Alvarez, Northcutt and every other free agent additions to ultimately discover their approach within the promotion.
“Look, I believe followers will at all times debate who’s one of the best champion at which division or who’s one of the best pound-for-pound everywhere in the world,” Sityodtong mentioned. “The No. 1 query I in all probability get from followers is would you ever do a ONE vs. UFC occasion? I’ve at all times mentioned sure, I might like to see it. It could be a world mega-event of epic proportions if you concentrate on it.
“Look, I nonetheless love Eddie, I nonetheless love Sage, I nonetheless love D.J. Look, I really like all these guys and I believe the funding will repay. They’re amongst one of the best on the earth with a brilliant future. It’s simply Eddie’s joined a division that’s assassin’s row and he’s going to need to undergo all these guys to be able to get a title shot however on the similar time he wouldn’t have it every other approach. He desires to show he’s one of the best on the earth nonetheless. I believe when he left the UFC, he was No. 3 or No. 4 [ranked] or one thing like that. He nonetheless has it. [Demetrious Johnson] is 35 years previous however I nonetheless imagine he’s within the prime of his profession. I nonetheless imagine he’s the GOAT.”