5 Things One Championship is Doing Different Than the UFC

By Tristen Critchfield Mar 30, 2021

Founded in July 2011, Singapore-based mixed martial arts promotion One Championship has made significant progress in the combat sports realm during its near decade of existence.

Since it debuted with One “Champion vs. Champion” in September 2011, Asia’s largest MMA organization has held more than 150 events — and it shows no signs of slowing down. The promotion will return with a series of four events that will be televised on TNT, beginning with an April 7 card headlined by perennial pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson and reigning flyweight king Adriano Moraes.

How has One managed to be successful? Well for one (no pun intended), the Chatri Sityodtong-led company isn’t satisfied with the status quo — and that includes following the lead of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion. Here are five ways that One Championship differs from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

1. A Varied Presentation of Combat Sports

Although Dana White has teased an as yet unrealized foray into Zuffa Boxing, the UFC has stuck strictly to MMA when it comes to its own events. Not so in One Championship. In 2018, the promotion announced the “One Super Series,” which included events that featured both kickboxing and muay Thai bouts. That tradition has continued to the present day, as all three of One’s most recent offerings featured a blend of combat disciplines. Its upcoming event, “One on TNT 1” will showcase a muay Thai title bout in the co-main event and a kickboxing bout on the undercard.

2. No Draining Weight Cuts

One implemented some serious changes to the ways its fighters approach the scales. A new policy adopted eliminated the dehydration process from weight cutting. Included in the program are multiple weigh-ins, weight tracking and gravity hydration tests, all of which ensure that athletes compete closer to what is their walking weight come fight night. As a result, One’s weight classes are 10 pounds heavier than their namesakes in the UFC. Flyweight, for example, is 135 pounds instead of 125.

3. Conor McGregor Clones Need Not Apply

As part of its mission statement, One Championship places a strong emphasis on the martial arts values of “integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion.” In short: trash talk as a form of promoting a fight is not welcomed here. It’s a promotional virtue that was praised by Demetrious Johnson upon leaving the UFC. “When I have company meetings with my staff, I always say our success is measured when a child puts a poster of one of our heroes on his or her bedroom wall,” Sityodtong told Business Insider. “I want parents to know that their children are safe in the hands of our heroes.”

4. Vicious, Vicious Knees

Though One Championship does not adopt the Unified Rules of MMA, most of the language isn’t all that different. However, its ruleset differs greatly from the UFC in one significant regard: Knees to a grounded opponent are legal and encouraged. In the Las Vegas-based promotion, the definition of what constitutes a grounded fighter varies from commission to commission and has been a source of confusion in many a bout. In One, it’s open season when it comes to knees — no matter what body part is on the canvas.

5. Scoring in Totality

In a nod to Pride Fighting Championships, One eschews a 10-point must system in favor of scoring a fight in its entirety. In other words, if Fighter A barely loses two close rounds but is dominant in the final stanza, it’s quite likely he or she will be awarded a decision over Fighter B. That eliminates those 29-28 scorecards that sometimes show up in UFC competition but just don’t feel quite right. The judging criteria are a little different, too, and places significance on the following in-cage achievements: 1. Near KO or submission 2. Damage 3. Striking combinations and cage generalship 4. Earned takedowns or takedown defense 5. Aggression.
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