And executives from ONE would love to make a “mega-event” with the UFC happen. A few weeks back, ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong said, “I definitely would welcome a ONE vs. UFC mega-event.”
Heavy recently spoke with ONE vice president and former three-time UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin about Chatri’s statement and if the UFC Hall of Famer was interested in such an event.
First, “Ace” gave his take from the perspective of an MMA fan, something he continues to be. “I always think as the fan first,” Franklin said. “And so when I look at something like that, I’m like, ‘Oh man, this would be epic.'”
“That opens up some possibilities for some amazing matchups,” he continued.
Since the UFC is the premier promotion in MMA, some fans may look past the talent fighting in ONE. However, the vice president reiterated that ONE fighters have taken out some extremely high-level UFC imports.
Former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who is regarded as one of the greatest fighters ever, was recently knocked out by ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes.
Former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has had a rough go in the promotion, going 1-2 with one no-contest.
“When you look at a lot of the athletes that have crossed over from the US and UFC in particular into ONE championship, I think prior to that a lot of the mainstream fans we’re looking at ONE championship questioning the effectiveness of [their] athletes,” Franklin said.
“But when you look at crossover athletes like Eddie and the kind of troubles and the good battles that he’s been through… Demetrious Johnson, not even just his recent loss against Adriano Moraes, but even when he was in the Flyweight Grand Prix tournament. The level of competition that he faced there, granted, he won the competition, but you saw some guys where you were like, ‘Wow, man, these guys are on the level.'”
Watch Franklin’s full interview below:
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‘Anything Is Possible,’ Franklin Said About the Feasibility of Making a UFC vs. ONE Event
For an event like this to happen, UFC president Dana White would have to get on board. And there would be a ton of logistics to overcome to make it happen. For example, ONE Championship uses a hydration policy to effectively eliminate weight cutting, forcing fighters to compete at their natural weight, whereas fighters cutting weight is a staple in the UFC.
But Franklin, who said he still has a great relationship with White, believes that “anything is possible” if both the UFC and ONE want to put on a mega-event.
“If Chatri makes a statement like this and if Dana sees that, and he’s like, ‘I would be open to something like that,’ and you have two people that are willing to work, then anything is possible, right?” Franklin said. “These are the two guys that pull the strings.”
“If you’ve been a fan of boxing, for example, you’ve seen these big, big marquee fights that have fallen apart over the negotiation of a half of a pound, and making weight, because a half of a pound can make a difference between somebody winning and losing a match, right?” Franklin continued. “So little details obviously can throw things off. But I mean, if you have two organizations that are willing to do this, it’s possible.”
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Franklin Would Love to See Israel Adesanya vs. Reinier De Ridder, Charles Oliveira vs. Christian Lee
When asked to play matchmaker for a potential UFC vs. ONE event, Franklin gave two fights that are on the top of his list. Ace said he would enjoy watching ONE lightweight champion Christian Lee take on UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.
But the contest that excites Franklin the most is a battle between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and ONE light heavyweight and middleweight champion Reinier de Ridder (RDR).
“Looking at RDR and Adesanya, it would be an interesting matchup to me because it’s a clash of styles,” Franklin said. “You got this sniper technician on his feet that’s in and out. I mean, just amazing technique and quick [with] knockout power. But then, you got a guy like Reinier de Ridder that if he grabs a hold of you… once he gets a hold of you, he’s just gonna come around and he’s riding that back and it’s tough.
“I think that would be a good matchup. This is one of those can he get in and [do] what needs to be done without getting caught.”