Are you wondering about the differences between ONE Championship and the UFC?
In this article, we’ll look at all the differences between the two MMA promotions.
- ONE Championship vs UFC
- 1. Difference in Rules: ONE Championship vs UFC Rules
- 2. Difference in Time Zones and Headquarters
- 3. Difference in Fighter Rosters
- 4. Difference in Weight Classes
- 5. Difference in Weight Cutting
- 6. Difference in Sanctions for Fighters Missing Weight (Or Being Dehydrated)
- 7. Difference in Event / Competition Format
- 8. Difference in Payment: ONE Championship Fighter Pay vs UFC
- 9. Difference in Cage Used
- 10. Difference in Anti-Doping
- 11. Difference in Promotion Size
- 12. Difference in Athlete Rankings
- 13. Difference in Culture
- 14. Difference in Broadcasting
- The Bottom Line
ONE Championship vs UFC
In short: ONE Championship is a combat sports promotion, while the UFC is an MMA promotion – this is the biggest difference between the two.
This is the biggest difference between ONE Championship and the UFC but there are many differences between them.
Here’s a list of all these differences:
- Rules – ONE Championship has its own blended ruleset while the UFC adheres to the Unified Rules of MMA
- Time Zones – ONE Championship is based in Singapore and is 12 to 15 hours ahead of the US depending on the state
- Fighter Rosters – ONE Championship recruits mostly from Asia while the UFC recruits mostly from America
- Weight Classes – ONE Championship has 13 weight classes while the UFC has 12
- Weight Cutting – ONE Championship uses a rehydration protocol that prevents weight cutting while UFC fighters often cut up to 25 lbs
- Sanctions for Missing Weight – ONE Championship has a three-offense rule while the UFC sanctions fighters along with the athletic commissions
- Event / Competition Format – ONE Championship promotes up to 4 combat sports at an event while the UFC promotes only MMA
- Fighter Pay – ONE Championship hasn’t revealed any numbers while the UFC pays their fighters roughly $53,000 per fight on average
- Cage Used – ONE Championship uses rings and circular cages while the UFC uses their trademarked Octagon
- Anti-Doping – ONE Championship only started testing their fighters pre and post-fight in August 2022, while the UFC has been testing since 2001
- Promotion Size – ONE Championship is a top 10 MMA promotion but the UFC is way ahead and stands alone as the king of MMA
- Athlete Rankings – ONE Championship rank 5 athletes per weight class division while the UFC ranks the top 15
- Culture – ONE Championship doesn’t allow trash-talking or swearing while the UFC actively promotes trash talking
- Broadcasting – ONE Championship has a majority of its live events available for free while the UFC requires a monthly subscription or pay-per-view (PPV)
1. Difference in Rules: ONE Championship vs UFC Rules
ONE Championship uses a blended ruleset for MMA and also for muay thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling.
In terms of ONE Championship’s MMA rules, they use what they call the ‘Global Martial Arts Rule Set’, which is basically the Official Unified Rules of MMA with some ‘Asian rules’. Other times it’s been called a blend between Pride FC and UFC rules.
The first big difference is how bouts are scored and decisions are made. In ONE Championship, fights aren’t scored round-by-round like they are in MMA rules, instead, the judges score the fight as a whole.
These are the criteria used by judges to score bouts:
- Damage (internal, accumulated, superficial)
- Striking combinations and cage/ring generalship (ground control and superior positioning)
- Earned takedowns or takedown defense
These criteria are judged in order of importance from top to bottom.
Based on these rules, going for knockouts and submissions is the best way to win and outweigh effective damage done throughout a fight; which is normally the best way to win a UFC fight if it goes to the judges’ scorecards.
Overall though, knockdowns and near-submission attempts are seen as some of the most effective damage done in the UFC so really the criteria are the same and worded differently.
The major difference is ONE FC scoring the bout as a whole, and the UFC scoring bouts rounds-by-round.
Another difference is in the legality of some moves. Unlike the Unified Rules of MMA, ONE Championship allows:
- 12 to 6 elbows both when standing and grounded
- Grounded knee strikes to the head of an opponent
Generally, these two rules are great additions for ONE as it’s widely accepted that 12 to 6 elbows shouldn’t be illegal as they’re no more dangerous than any other elbow, and grounded knee strikes keep fights moving where fighters in the UFC can stall by having a hand down which makes any kicks to the head illegal.
A big draw for many fans of ONE Championship was that they allowed soccer kicks for the first 5 years of the promotion, but were banned in 2016 after media pressure.
On the other hand, the UFC’s rules changed quite frequently between 1993 and 2001 but remained mostly unchanged thereafter as they adhered to the Official Unified Rules of MMA in 2001.
These are the de facto rules used across America and most MMA promotions around the world, except in Asia where they’ve historically used their own rules or a blend of both.
The main difference to ONE Championship is that UFC fights are scored per round with the use of the ‘10-point must system’.
This system means the winner of a round is awarded 10 points, while the loser is given 9 or lower. It’s possible for both fighters to get 9 points or less once point deductions are included.
While similar, the UFC’s most important judging criteria is effective damage rather than near knockouts or submissions.
Their judging criteria look like this:
- Effective striking and grappling
- Effective aggression
- Fighting area control
These criteria are to be followed in order, and aggression and fighting area control are only considered if there’s no separation between effective striking and grappling in terms of damage done.
2. Difference in Time Zones and Headquarters
A smaller but significant difference between ONE Championship and the UFC is where they’re based.
ONE Championship is based in Singapore and hosts a majority of its events in Asia. Singapore is 12 to 15 hours ahead depending on the US state.
The UFC is based in America and hosts a majority of its events there. America is 12 to 15 hours behind Singapore depending on the US state.
3. Difference in Fighter Rosters
ONE Championship’s fighter roster is mostly Asian fighters but they also have a very even split between American, Russian, and Brazilians, with Australians just behind. The most recruited from Asian countries are China, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines.
The reason ONE Championship has a more even spread is they’re looking to capture a global audience by recruiting many fighters from each continent or country.
In terms of fighter quality, ONE Championship has some elite-level fighters but the overall quality drops off when looking at the quality of fighters throughout the whole promotion.
The amount of fighters from the Asian continent is very low, and only the best Asian fighters make it to the UFC. The UFC mostly has Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean fighters from Asia.
This isn’t to say the Asian fighters aren’t as good, it’s that the UFC is American based so scouting from the home nation is much easier than scouting on the other side of the world. Not to mention visa issues and constant travel for Asian fighters not residing in America.
The UFC mostly has American and Brazilian fighters because both countries have a culture of fighting and of martial arts.
They’re also easier to recruit from as Brazil is on the South American continent and American fighters can be scouted and recruited from many MMA gyms and American MMA promotions.
In terms of fighter quality, the UFC has a much higher percentage of elite-level fighters and a much higher overall skill level throughout the promotion than ONE Championship.
This stems from the UFC’s position as the best and its ability to offer higher pay and opportunity for fame.
They can also recruit top talent from other top-level American promotions and scout through shows such as Dana White’s Contender Series. The best fighters are drawn to the best promotion.
In terms of numbers, the UFC has roughly 700 fighters on its roster, but this number is ever-changing. ONE Championship has between 850 and 900 fighters on its roster, seeing as they have more weight classes and many more combat sports than just MMA.
4. Difference in Weight Classes
ONE Championship has 13 weight classes while the UFC has 12.
Here’s a table showing the difference:
Note: The weight in the table is the maximum weight limit for each weight class.
|Men’s Strawweight (125 lbs)||N/A|
|Men’s Flyweight (135 lbs)||Men’s Flyweight (125 lbs)|
|Men’s Bantamweight (145 lbs)||Men’s Bantamweight (135 lbs)|
|Men’s Featherweight (155 lbs)||Men’s Featherweight (145 lbs)|
|Men’s Lightweight (170lbs)||Men’s Lightweight (155lbs)|
|Men’s Welterweight (185 lbs)||Men’s Welterweight (170 lbs)|
|Men’s Middleweight (205 lbs)||Men’s Middleweight (185 lbs)|
|Men’s Light Heavyweight (225 lbs)||Men’s Light Heavyweight (205 lbs)|
|Men’s Heavyweight (265 lbs)||Men’s Heavyweight (265 lbs)|
|Women’s Atomweight (115 lbs)||N/A|
|Women’s Strawweight (125 lbs)||Women’s Strawweight (115 lbs)|
|Women’s Flyweight (135 lbs)||Women’s Flyweight (125 lbs)|
|Women’s Bantamweight (145 lbs)||Women’s Bantamweight (135 lbs)|
|N/A||Women’s Featherweight (145 lbs)|
As can be seen from the table, ONE Championship has a men’s strawweight and women’s atomweight which the UFC doesn’t.
On the other hand, the UFC has a women’s featherweight division which ONE Championship doesn’t.
Although the UFC has a women’s featherweight division setup, it’s not included in their UFC rankings because it’s completely underdeveloped and there are rarely fights taking place.
Also, the maximum weight limit for each weight class is at least 10 lbs heavier in ONE Championship, apart from the men’s heavyweight division which is capped at 265 lbs for both promotions.
The reason for the weight differences is the difference in weight-cutting policies each promotion uses.
5. Difference in Weight Cutting
In 2015, ONE Championship introduced a new hydration protocol and weigh-in process effectively banning weight cutting.
Weight cutting is a weight manipulation process in which fighters flush water out of their body in order to weigh in for a lighter weight class division than their usual fighting weight, so they have an advantage in size and strength once they rehydrate.
ONE Championship effectively banned weight-cutting in 2015, soon after the death of one of their fighters, Yang Jian Bing; who died as a result of dehydration.
ONE Championship keeps fighters from cutting weight by weighing fighters throughout fight week and 3 hours before the event, while also conducting hydration tests by testing fighters for urine-specific gravity.
Fighters must have a urine-specific gravity value of 1.025 or below to pass the test. Any fighters failing these tests are disqualified from fighting.
The hydration protocol is also used during ONE fighters’ training camp. Fighters are required to regularly log and update their weights to an online portal which is monitored by the promotion.
On the other hand, UFC fighters are well versed in the water flushing process and continue to do so before a fight if they choose to.
It’s important to note that UFC fighters don’t have to cut weight if they don’t want to, they’d simply have to let the UFC know they’re moving up a weight class.
While weight cutting is dangerous, many do it because they prefer to fight with a size, strength, and weight advantage; or at least match their opponent.
Fighters that don’t cut weight come into the fight smaller but with more energy and have spent more time training their skills and focusing on a game plan to win the fight; as opposed to feeling drained and dehydrated in the weeks and days before the fight.
For each fighter, it’s a weighing-up process of the pros and cons and what they decide is entirely their own decision. The option to choose is mostly welcomed by UFC fighters and fans around the world.
In 2016, the UFC made changes to their weight-cutting process by changing the weigh-in times from 4 pm to 9 am to 11 am on Friday, the day before the fight. This was a positive change as it gave UFC fighters an extra 5 to 7 hours of rehydration time before a fight.
Overall, this explains why the two promotions have different maximum weights for each weight class. The best examples are Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson, who both moved from the UFC to ONE Championship.
In the UFC, Alvarez fought in the lightweight division at 155 lbs, and in ONE he’s still a lightweight but he fights at 170 lbs because he’s no longer flushing 15 lbs or more from his walking weight.
In the UFC, Demetrious Johnson fought at flyweight (125 lbs), while in ONE, he’s still a flyweight but is weighing in at 135 lbs instead.
6. Difference in Sanctions for Fighters Missing Weight (Or Being Dehydrated)
If a fighter misses weight in ONE Championship, a catchweight bout can take place if the opponent accepts the fight and if they’re no more than 5% heavier than the lower-weighing fighter.
For example, if a fighter makes weight at 170 lbs, their opponent can’t weigh more than 178.5 lbs if the fight is to be a catchweight.
This is different from the UFC, which only allows a catchweight if a fighter is no more than 5 lbs heavier than the lower-weighing fighter. If they’re above 5 lbs heavier, the fight can only take place at the next weight class, if both fighters agree to it.
In ONE Championship, if fighters are dehydrated and have therefore missed weight, the following sanctions apply:
- ‘First offense – athlete receives an official warning.
- Second offense – athlete will be penalized 25 percent of his or her total fight purse.
- Third offense – athlete will be penalized 50 percent of his or her purse. The athlete will also be permanently disqualified from competing in the weight class and must move up to the next higher weight class.‘
In terms of missing weight in the UFC, there aren’t specific rules as the deductions are made by the various State Athletic Commissions, who usually deduct between 20-30% from a fighter. Fighters also lose the opportunity to win any Fight of the Night bonuses.
This happens every time a fighter misses weight and it’s up to the UFCs discretion to move a fighter up a weight class; which can happen at any time but does usually happen after a third weight miss.
7. Difference in Event / Competition Format
The difference between ONE Championship and the UFC in terms of competition format is one of the biggest differences between the two promotions.
ONE Championship is a combat sports promotion, where MMA is only one facet of their promotion. ONE appeals to a wide audience by promoting 4 different combat sports: MMA, kickboxing, muay thai, and submission grappling.
Interestingly, ONE incorporates different combat sports at every event and never has an event consisting of only MMA, or only kickboxing. This is very smart as it keeps the entertainment fresh by changing combat sports each fight.
Each combat sport has its own ruleset, which again means fans are watching something unique in each fight, distinct from any other fighting event in the world.
Not only this, but ONE Championship created custom-set rules for a superfight in 2022 between MMA great, Demetrious Johnson, and muay thai superstar, Rodtang.
The fight featured 4, three-minute rounds, and rounds 1 and 3 were muay thai rules, while rounds 2 and 4 were MMA rules. The fight also used 4-ounce MMA gloves throughout.
In the muay thai rounds, they could either win via KO/TKO or via three knockdowns scored. The MMA rounds were won via KO/TKO or submission.
By contrast, the UFC is an MMA promotion and promotes only MMA fights. Their laser focus on MMA is the reason why they’re so successful and have dominated MMA since the 90s.
The UFC has two types of events, ‘Numbered’ events, more commonly known as PPV events, and Fight Night events. PPV events are once a month on average (12 times a year) and Fight Nights are 30 times a year on average (42 total events).
Both events feature an early preliminary card, preliminary card, and main card and both events are an average of 5-6 hours long.
8. Difference in Payment: ONE Championship Fighter Pay vs UFC
ONE Championship has never revealed any numbers related to fighter pay, but some fighters have revealed some numbers.
Ben Askren said in 2018 he was paid $50,000 to win and $50,000 to show, while it’s reported that Demetrious Johnson is paid a flat fee of $750,000 per fight and Eddie Alvarez is paid a flat fee of $600,000.
These are the biggest stars to have fought there and these numbers are much lower than what the biggest stars in the UFC earn. The average fighter on ONE Championship’s roster is likely earning much less than what the UFC is paying; just based on revenue and profitability.
In terms of UFC fighter pay, in short, the average payment for a fight is $53,333 and $160,000 per year (3 fights a year on average), but this includes the most well-paid fighters who massively boost this number.
The 11 most well-paid UFC fighters earned between $932,000 and $8 million in 2021, which is fees to show and win, as well as bonuses and fighter incentive pay.
These numbers don’t include pay-per-view points which can add hundreds of thousands or even millions on top of their earnings.
Regarding bonuses, the two promotions pay similarly. ONE Championship pays $50,000 ‘performance bonuses’ for fighters who put on an amazing display or get a spectacular finish.
The UFC has ‘of the Night’ bonuses (performance and fight) which pay $50,000. A fighter can win $100,000 if they Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night.
The last difference concerning pay is that ONE Championship fighters can wear outside sponsors on their clothing when fighting.
The amount they earn will vary, but it’s a good way fighters can earn extra money. There haven’t been any fighters to disclose an amount they’ve been paid from a sponsor.
By contrast, the UFC pays its fighters a ‘Fight Week Incentive Pay’, which is the payment they receive for wearing the mandatory sponsored Venum clothing every time they fight.
They earn between $4,000 to $21,000 per fight depending on the amount of UFC fights they’ve had. Title challengers earn $32,000 while UFC champions earn $42,000.
9. Difference in Cage Used
ONE Championship uses a cage and a ring, determined by the type of fights on the night. If their event features mostly MMA bouts, they’ll use a cage, and if it’s mostly muay thai bouts, they’ll use a ring.
However, this makes it entirely possible for MMA bouts to take place in a Muay Thai style ring.
For MMA they mostly use a circular cage with unknown dimensions (never revealed) but have also used a five-roped ring for some of their MMA bouts, such as at their ONE: Heroes of Honor event. This is different from the usual four-roped ring they usually use.
On the other hand, the UFC is famous for its eight-sided cage known as the octagon. It was once trademarked so no other MMA promotion could use it but now only the name is trademarked.
The UFC uses two sizes of octagons, with the original being 30 feet across (9.1m), and 6 feet high (1.82m), with the inside measuring 746 square feet.
The smaller octagon is 25 feet (7.6m) in diameter, with the same height, and a total space of 518 square feet. The smaller octagon is used less often and is only used for smaller events.
However, since the start of the covid pandemic, the 25 feet octagon was used a lot more as the UFC held many events at the UFC Apex, which is their own facility in Las Vegas that uses the 25 feet octagon.
10. Difference in Anti-Doping
From 2011 to 2022, ONE Championship conducted no anti-doping tests on their athletes.
Their owner, Chatri Sityodtong, said the reason for this is when he founded ONE Championship in 2011, there weren’t any sanctioning bodies or other institutions for MMA in Asia.
They’re traveling through unchartered water, much like how the UFC was from 1993 to 2001, where they were constantly implementing new rules and banning old ones before the State Athletic Commissions collaborated to create the Unified Rules of MMA in 2001.
This means steroids and PEDs are rampant within ONE Championship. However, in August 2022, ONE Championship started to conduct anti-doping tests for the first time from ONE 160 with their new partner, International Doping Tests & Management.
They’re using both blood and urine testing, in and out of competition.
In contrast, it’s well known the UFC has been partnered with USADA since 2015.
The UFC still uses the anti-doping tests conducted by State Athletic Commissions before all MMA events, but they use USADA as an extra third-party tester mainly for out-of-competition testing.
However, although the UFC’s anti-doping protocol is the highest in the world among any MMA or combat sports promotion, UFC fighters are still using steroids and performance-enhancing drugs and they always will do because of the nature of the sport.
11. Difference in Promotion Size
The UFC is the pinnacle of MMA and is so big that people often confuse the UFC with MMA, meanwhile, ONE Championship is 11 years young and only recently finding its feet.
Marketing and Content
The UFC positioned itself as the frontrunner and early pioneer since its inception in 1993. This has meant the domination of MMA in America in terms of live events as well as the content market which includes the ownership of UFC Fight Pass and its other social media channels.
With UFC Fight Pass, fight fans can watch a whole host of MMA and combat sports content all in one place, with live events also available.
For this reason, it’s hard for any MMA or combat sports promotion to compete or make a dent in the UFC’s dominant market share; which is what ONE Championship is trying to do.
ONE has grown quickly in its first 11 years since being founded in 2011. Unfortunately for ONE, there’s a graveyard of MMA and combat sports promotions who’ve tried to compete with the UFC or simply haven’t managed to maintain profitability or even enter the green.
ONE Championship needs to enter the US market if they’re to compete. They’re aiming to have their first event there in 2023 and are working on getting their ruleset accepted by State Athletic Commissions in the United States.
However, ONE Championship is growing fast on all of its social media channels, with it already having 5.6M subscribers on Youtube while the UFC has 14M subscribers.
In the end, One Championship has a total Asian population of 4.56 billion people that they can market to while the UFC has a North American population of 580 million people to market to.
Yes, the UFC has South America and Europe too, but ONE will likely eat some market share in the future just because of how big Asia is.
Concerning PPV numbers, the UFC dominates the market and in terms of combat sports, their best events are only bettered by the two biggest boxing PPVs in the world; one of which featured Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather.
For ONE, they’re still only 11 years into their journey and are at the stage of attracting viewers rather than seriously entering the PPV market.
Again, because of how big the population of Asia is (4.56 billion), it’s highly likely ONE Championship will be doing huge PPV numbers soon enough.
UFC vs ONE Championship Net Worth (Valuation) & Revenue
In 2016, the UFC was sold for $4 billion to Endeavor Group Holdings. In 2021, Endeavor bought out the remaining shareholders at a valuation of $5.147 billion.
Soon entering 2023, the UFC is now worth an estimated $9+ billion but this will be heavily reliant on the 2022 revenue and profit numbers.
The UFC’s revenue has continually grown year on year and in 2021, the company revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Of this $1 billion, $455 to $516 million is their free cash flow.
By contrast, ONE Championship is owned by the parent company, Group ONE Holdings, which raised $150 million for investment at a valuation of $1 billion in January 2022; roughly nine times smaller than the UFC. The investment is being used to expand into the US market.
In terms of revenue, ONE Championship is also growing year on year and they brought in $67.7 million in 2021. They’re yet to be profitable since its founding in 2011.
12. Difference in Athlete Rankings
ONE Championship rank only the top 5 athletes per weight class division, voted on by media outlets following each event.
Taken directly from their website, about half of the panel includes:
- Nicolas Atkin from South China Morning Post
- Stewart Fulton from MMA In Japan
- Manabu Takashima from MMAPLANET
- Tom Taylor from BJPenn.com
- Alan Dawson from Insider
- James Goyder from AsianMMA.com
- JM Siasat from GMA Network
The UFC ranks the top 15 athletes per weight class division, ranked and updated every week by a media outlet vote.
The difference is that while the outlets are known, the voters are anonymous and the whole UFC ranking process is handled by a third party. The UFC has very little involvement.
13. Difference in Culture
ONE Championship promotes a culture of integrity, respect, and honor. The promotion maintains there isn’t any place for trash-talking or swearing within the promotion.
This is because they’re based in Asia and the deeply rooted martial arts tradition there was founded on these principles. They also believe trash-talking isn’t sustainable and doesn’t work long-term.
On ONE’s about us page, it reads ‘ONE is a celebration of Asia’s greatest cultural phenomena, Martial Arts and Gaming, and the deep-rooted Asian values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion.’
On the other hand, the UFC allows, promotes, and wants trash talk to occur before, during, and after fights. They understand in the Western market, fans care just as much about trash-talking and feuds between fighters as much as they do the fight.
Not only do they care about trash-talking as much, if not more, but trash-talking between two fighters also makes fights more interesting because there’s a lot more on the line at that point.
Most fans of MMA in the West prefer to see two fighters prepare for war who both believe they’ll win and let the world know this in no uncertain terms.
Conor McGregor is a prime example of a fighter who used trash-talking on top of his skills to become MMA’s biggest attraction. They say sex sells, and the same can be said about trash-talking when it’s paired with fighting as it gets fans invested.
Meanwhile, ONE’s founder maintained he’d never sign someone like McGregor because his persona isn’t suited to the culture at ONE Championship. This is a very clear difference between the two promotions.
14. Difference in Broadcasting
ONE Championship calls itself Asia’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) and combats sports promotion, broadcasting to over 2.7 billion potential viewers across more than 150 countries.
ONE Championship’s live events can be watched on its website, Youtube, and Amazon Prime. Their biggest events are now requiring payment to watch them, which can be purchased and watched on their website for a small fee.
On the other hand, UFC Fight Night’s available to watch with a monthly subscription to the rights broadcaster in a given country. For example, in the USA it’s ESPN and in the UK it’s BT Sport.
UFC PPV events require payment and can be paid for and watched on UFC Fight Pass or through the rights broadcaster. They cost between $25 to $75 depending on the PPV event.
The Bottom Line
In terms of ONE Championship vs UFC, there are many differences between them.
The biggest differences are the MMA rules, the weight classes, weight cutting, event formatting (MMA vs combat sports blend), anti-doping, and the size of the two promotions in regard to profit and revenue.
While there are many differences, they’re similar in that they’re the biggest MMA and combat sports promotions in their respective continent, where the runway is absolutely huge for ONE Championship and they likely have a bright future considering what they’ve achieved so far.