UFC vs ONE Championship - What Are the Differences?

differences between ufc and ONE Championship

UFC is the leading MMA promotion in the world while One Championship is dominating the Asian market. Watching both promotions, you may have noticed that there are many differences such as the rules of competition and business models. What are the exact differences between UFC and ONE FC?

The key differences are the rules, depth of the roster, weight classes, and weight cutting policies. UFC adopted the official Unified Rules of MMA, while ONE FC follows the unique “Global Martial Arts Rule set”. Next, UFC enables fighters to cut weight by dehydration while this practice is banned in ONE.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to differences between UFC and ONE championships. Thus, be sure to read this article to learn more and find out how these two promotions compare in various aspects.

What Are The Differences Between One Championship and UFC?

Although both promote the sport of MMA, the way ONE FC and UFC operate differs in just about every segment. These two promotions have different rules, weight-cutting policies, the strength of the roster, etc.

The Concept

One of the key differences is the concept of each event. UFC focuses only on promoting MMA matches with each event including around 12–14 matches. ONE FC also primarily focuses on MMA, but each card also includes Kickboxing matches inside the cage. There are also Muay Thai fights with MMA open-fingered gloves as well as pure grappling matches.

UFC vs One Championship  – Weight Classes

UFC fighters compete across 12 weight classes in total out of which 8 are for men, and 4 are for female fighters. One Championship, on the other side, has 10 weight classes in total out of which 4 are for female fighters. The gap between the divisions is very much the same in both promotions and it ranges between 10 and 20 lbs.

However, there is a clear difference when it comes to the upper weight limits for each division. Weight classes in ONE FC are “heavier” than the same ones in the UFC. Here is a full comparison.

UFC Weight Class Upper Limit ONE FC Weight Class Upper Limit
/ / Atomweight 115lbs
Strawweight 115lbs Strawweight 125lbs
Flyweight 125lbs Flyweight 135lbs
Bantamweight 135lbs Bantamweight 145lbs
Featherweight 145lbs Featherweight 155lbs
Lightweight 155lbs Lightweight 170lbs
Welterweight 170lbs Welterweight 185lbs
Middleweight 185lbs Middleweight 205lbs
Light Heavyweight 205lbs Light Heavyweight 225lbs
Heavyweight 265lbs Heavyweight 265lbs

The other key difference is the fact that One Championship includes an “Atom weight” division (105–115 lbs) for both genders, which is the lowest weight class. The UFC doesn’t have an atomweight division as the lowest one for men is flyweight (125 lbs) and strawweight (115 lbs) for female fighters.

The difference in weight cutting policies between UFC and ONE FC

The difference in weight-cutting policies between UFC and ONE FC

The weight-cutting rule is a segment in which these two promotions differ the most. The UFC adopts the concept of extreme weight cutting by dehydration, while ONE FC banned this concept in 2018, and as a result, their fighters compete at their natural weight. Many experts and MMA fans praise One Championship for changing its stance on weight cuts and adopting a new policy.

How does UFC weight-cutting work?

Just about every UFC fighter goes through the process of losing up to 30 pounds in a week leading up to a fight. They do this with the goal to compete in the weight class below their natural one, and with that, gain an advantage in strength and size.

The process of losing this much weight is fraught with danger. It could be achieved by decreasing the intake of salt, carbs, fluid, and many other nutrients.

On Friday, the commission overseeing the event would arrange official weigh-ins. Each fighter needs to hit the scale within the upper and lower limits of the weight class they compete in. Once they pass the scale, they have 24h to rehydrate and gain the majority of weight back. Here is how it works in practice.

A fighter who competes as a lightweight (145–155 lbs) would enter fight week weighing around 180 pounds. By Friday morning and official weigh-ins, they would lose around 25 pounds to hit the scale within the limits. Once they pass the scale, they will rehydrate, gain the weight back, and enter the cage weighing 180 pounds again.

How does weight-cutting work in ONE FC?

ONE FC does not adopt the concept of extreme weight cutting. Fighters are allowed to cut weight, but they can’t do this by dehydration which makes it more difficult for them to lose much weight. Weigh-ins are organized on the day of the event which also means that fighters do not have enough time to gain the weight back. Also, each fighter must be within 5% of the opponent’s weight both before and after the match is over.

Throughout the fight week, each fighter must go through multiple random hydration tests and the technicians would also check urine gravity to prevent dehydration.

Illegal and legal strikes difference between UFC and ONE Championship

The main difference is the knee strikes. UFC fighters are not allowed to hit the grounded opponent with a knee strike to the head, while ONE FC enables its fighters to do so.

One Championship didn’t adopt the Unified Rules of MMA used by most promotions such as the UFC. Instead, when the company emerged in 2012, it adopted the rules from PRIDE FC.

As a result, notorious strikes like soccer kicks and knees to the ground opponent were allowed in competition. But as ONE started to expand globally, they banned soccer kicks in 2016, while knees to the grounded opponent remained legal.

Illegal techniques are very much the same in both promotions. You are not allowed to hit the back of the head, pull hair, gouge eyes, hit the groin area, grab the fence, etc.

The strength of the roster between UFC and ONE FC

The UFC roster is both deeper and stronger. This makes the competition harder and improves the overall quality of entertainment. At each moment, the UFC has over 600 fighters under contract, while One Championship has much fewer.

As a result, each UFC weight class has over 50 fighters ready to compete, which makes the talent pool much deeper. This also makes it harder for fighters to work their way up and succeed and winning the UFC title is far more important than ONE FC. Each UFC fighter must win at least 5–6 fights before they can even enter the rankings, or go on a 10+ unbeaten strike to receive a shot at the title.

The rise to the top is much shorter in ONE due to the lack of talent. A talented fighter can get into a title contender position after a couple of dominant wins.

Values and image of the sport

There is a clear difference in the way ONE and UFC are promoting the sport and the marketing strategies they are using.

On one side, the UFC uses tactics similar to WWE to create good guys and villains to divide the audience. They would exaggerate rivalries and do their best to dramatize each fight through hours of promo materials.

Next, it’s not a secret that UFC embraces trash-talking, or any other methods used to create attention around the event or a specific fight. Although the promotion does not encourage this type of behavior directly, it will give trash-talkers a platform and all the media space to say what they want to say. As a result, you can often hear fighters insulting each other’s origins, religions, and even family members at press conferences with millions of people watching.

ONE FC is different as it focuses more on promoting the warrior spirit and respect between the athletes.

The emphasis is on sending a positive image of the sport and promoting strong values. Though there are rivalries, you will rarely see fighters crossing the line of what is morally and socially acceptable. One Championship would certainly not give them a space to do so.

As a result, the focus of each event is on what is at stake, the fighting styles, and the skills that each athlete brings to the table, and this approach sells well.

Overall, there are big cultural differences between the east and the west, which is why these two companies differ so much in this business aspect.

UFC vs One Championship: Scoring criteria

Both ONE FC and UFC include three judges sitting beside the cage and scoring the fight utilizing a 10-point must system adopted from boxing. But the scoring criteria the judges use to determine the winner of the match differs a lot.

The first major difference is that One Championship judges score the match in its entirety and they submit their scores at the end of the match.

The UFC judges, on the other hand, score the match round by round. At the end of each round, the official would pick up the scorecards from each judge, and if the match goes to distance, sum up all the points and declare a winner.

To determine the winner of the match, ONE FC judges use the following criteria, in this order:

  • Was there a knockdown or a dangerous submission attempt
  • Immediate or accumulated damage done by both fighters
  • More effective striking combination, superior positioning, and ground control
  • Completed or defended takedowns
  • Effective aggression

The UFC judges, on the other hand, use quite different criteria, in this order:

  • Effective striking or grappling — who won more grappling or striking exchanges
  • Effective aggression — efforts to finish the fight with strikes or submissions without taking damage
  • Fighting area control — who was the one controlling the center of the octagon and initiating the exchanges

UFC vs One Championship – The Quality of the Fighters

Both UFC and ONE FC maintain high standards when it comes to which fighters they sign in. As the biggest promotion in the world, the dream of every MMA athlete is to win the UFC crown. This is why all the best MMA fighters end up signing with them at some point in their careers.

Although smaller in every aspect, ONE FC’s roster consists of only the best fighters available on the market who are all world-class athletes. Yes, the UFC roster is stronger overall and the competition is tougher. But ONE FC does not fall behind in terms of talent, and here is why.

A couple of UFC fighters have moved to One Championship, and the majority of them had a hard time dealing with top fighters. For example, Eddie Alvarez lost his ONE debut in 2019. Next, Sage Northcut, a former UFC fighter, lost his ONE debut via knockout in 2019. And lastly, Demetrious Johnson, one of the greatest of all time, lost his title against Adriano Moraes in 2021.

UFC vs ONE FC: Revenue and Incomes

UFC is the leader in the MMA industry and dominates the financial aspect, and its revenue is much bigger. In 2021, they reported over $1 billion in revenue, double the growth from the previous year (2020) when the revenue was less due to covid and the lack of a live audience.

In 2021, ONE FC reported revenue of $67.7 million, which is not even close to the UFC’s numbers. To make matters worse, they also reported a loss of $111 million for 2021. Despite dominating the Asian market in digital viewership, the company has managed to accumulate $383 million in total losses as of 2021.

Overall, the UFC is clearly superior when it comes to financials. ONE FC seems to have a hard time keeping its business profitable but this requires deeper analysis.

UFC vs ONE FC: Fighter Salary

When it comes to lower and mid-tier fighters, the paychecks are very much the same in both promotions. Although ONE FC has far less revenue and audience, they are still paying their athletes quite well and relatively the same as in bigger promotions.

How much do UFC fighters make?

On average, UFC fighters earn $84,044 per fight, while the median base salary is $30,000. The average annual salary, however, is around $148,000. Newcomers may earn as little as $10,000 to show up + another $10,000 if they win the match. High-profile fighters may earn a couple of million or up $25 million as Conor McGregor did in 2021.

Overall, the UFC is giving fighters individual contracts. They are paid to show up (base salary) and usually receive a 100% bonus if they win the fight. They can also get a $50,000 post-fight bonus for scoring a knockout/submission of the night or being part of the most exciting bout of the event.

High-profile fighters have bigger negotiating power and can box out better deals. They might get larger bonuses or agree to get the percentage of the total PPV buys.

How much do One Championship fighters make?

Despite being a smaller promotion, ONE FC is paying its fighters reasonably well, and in some cases, the numbers could be close to the biggest promotions. But overall, ONE FC fighters earn much less.

The median salary of $27,000 is just below the UFC’s. However, low-tier fighters earn as little as $2–3,000 to show up, while preliminary fighters on the main card may earn up to $10,000. High-profile fighters may box out eight-figure contracts, but this is reserved only for the most popular athletes.

For example, former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson receives around $750,000 per fight, which is more than he was getting in the UFC as a champion. Reinier de Ridder cashes out around $250,000 per match (without bonuses).

Like in the UFC, fighters can also win a $50,000 bonus for spectacular performances.

Is ONE Championship Better than UFC?

Overall, ONE Championship is not bigger or better than UFC when it comes to most aspects. The salary is lower in the Asian promotion, as well as the strength and depth of the roster, and the quality of fighters is not the same as in the UFC. However, there are certain areas in which ONE FC does a better job which is the key reason why the promotion is rising so fast.

ONE FC has a much better weight cutting policies where losing weight by dehydration is banned. As a result, athletes do not have to torture their bodies and put their health at risk before each fight. The events are also more dynamic as each one includes MMA, kickboxing and Muay Thai matches that are all spectacular. And lastly, ONE FC fights and quality of production do not fall behind the UFC or other big promotions.

But overall, UFC holds the monopoly over the MMA market and is much bigger in every aspect.

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