There are elite athletes all over the world, and those athletes also compete in every major promotion. They are not confined to any one promotion, no matter how much market share their initials create.
Fighters We’d Like to See in ONE
The martial arts scene has exploded over the past two decades, and we see talent come from seemingly nowhere to blow our minds every year. But what if some of those talents that we have seen rise to the top had the freedom to challenge themselves…elsewhere?
In this hypothetical, we will take a look at five extraordinary athletes and place them in Asia’s largest sports media property — ONE Championship. We will look at the potential matchups that would await them and their possible impact in helping to grow this global sport.
Let’s break down five elite athletes we’d love to see grace the ONE’s Circle.
China’s Zhang Weili would be a huge addition to ONE as they lead the Asian martial arts scene.
Adding in one of China’s top athletes makes a lot of sense for both parties involved, especially as she is still in her athletic prime.
Aside from the regional impact, Zhang also has unfinished business against one of ONE’s rising stars. Meng Bo, who is competing in the ONE Atomweight World Grand Prix, was the first person to defeat Zhang, and she never got a chance to get that win back.
Is there a better first bout for Zhang to take in this hypothetical switch? Zhang vs. Meng Bo would be huge for Chinese mixed martial arts and is a built-in story to tell that would generate global hype. After that, win or lose, Zhang has many high-quality opponents who would be gunning to take her out.
A.J. McKee took down the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix and became the Bellator Featherweight World Champion after a remarkable first-round finish of Patricio “Pitbull” Freire at the end of July.
He is the perfect inclusion because immediately after capturing the gold, he called out featherweights around the world from every promotion. It captured the attention of ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le, as well.
Let’s f***ing gooooo https://t.co/Il6MTdiY4I
— Thanh Le (@ThanhLeMMA) August 1, 2021
Beyond a Champion vs. Champion clash, McKee has plenty of other matchups at his fingertips in ONE. Meetings against Martin Nguyen and Garry Tonon immediately spring to mind. But what if he moves up to lightweight? Christian Lee and the host of contenders would also be jaw-dropping matches to witness for the American.
McKee’s unblemished 18-0 record is an incredible feat, and after topping the Bellator ranks, it would be immeasurably fascinating to see him against other top-flight competition across the ocean.
“Do Bronx” is another obvious choice, but not because he is the reigning UFC Lightweight World Champion. Yes, Champion vs. Champion matchups immediately captures one’s attention, but there is more to consider with Charles Oliveira.
ONE offers up the ability to do amazing one-off superfights outside of just mixed martial arts. What does that mean for Oliviera and the fans? Potential grappling matches against Shinya Aoki and Garry Tonon.
How incredible would that be? That flexibility is not currently afforded to the Brazilian, but it would be insane to watch go down inside ONE’s Circle.
And, yes, other lightweight tilts would be incredible too. Oliveira vs. Lee would promise to be pure fireworks, but Iuri Lapicus, Timofey Nastyukhin, and others pose significant threats to the UFC’s current king. All are enticing bouts that could be made possible if he were able to make the move.
Yaroslav Amosov’s inclusion has little to do with the Bellator Welterweight World Championship that is around his waist and more to do with his unbeaten 26-0 professional record.
The talented Ukrainian is a Combat Sambo and Combat Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, and those are exciting propositions to bring into the Circle against ONE’s welterweights.
In addition to the stylistic clash with ONE’s World Champion, Kiamrian Abbasov, there is a global storyline that could be built between them. Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine meeting on a global stage with their top athletes going toe-to-toe would generate a lot of buzz throughout that part of the world.
Throw in Zebaztian Kadestam and Raimond Magomedaliev, and you can have an interesting dynamic that could open the doors of expansion.
Reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz would fit right in on ONE’s roster and have some key matches awaiting him, like with Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang. However, in this instance, it is the Champion vs. Champion clash that is most intriguing.
Blachowicz taking on Reinier De Ridder would be a monster meeting for European MMA. The two World Champions colliding to prove who is the best while also highlighting the continent’s best athletes would be a massive deal.
Also, it is an amazing matchup to think about.
De Ridder’s grappling dominance against the power left from Blachowicz? Sign us up. It would be a historic bout for all of Europe and have the mouth-watering stylistic intrigue fans from every walk of life would enjoy.