The UFC is the largest MMA promotion in the world, but it doesn’t hold a monopoly on the sport. MMA is a global sport, and there are many other promotions and leagues that organize and broadcast fights.
The UFC, being the most famous of them all, has people like Conor McGregor, the highest paid MMA fighter, or Henry Cejudo, an Olympic gold medalist, on the roster. However, that doesn’t mean that the best MMA fighters in the world are in the UFC, as there are many high-level fighters competing in other organizations as well. These organizations also tend to be very different from the UFC. Two of the more popular ones are ONE FC and Rizin, both of which are Asian MMA promotions. Here’s how they compare to the UFC.
Different rules from UFC
Most of the rules that ONE FC and Rizin have are similar common-sense rules that the UFC has, such as eye pokes and groin strikes being illegal. However, they do allow certain strikes that are illegal in the UFC. For example, in the UFC and other western MMA organizations, when an opponent is on the ground, it’s illegal to kick or stomp their head. ONE FC banned them, but in Rizin it’s perfectly legal to do that. Allowing strikes like these changes the dynamics of fights and encourages fights to end with a finish rather than with a decision.
ONE FC in particular also has very different rules when it comes to weight cutting. These rules regulate how fighters cut weight, which is when they restrict their diet and water intake to lose weight quickly so that they can make the weight limit for the fight. ONE FC implemented these new rules when one of their fighters died while cutting weight. As a result, the weight classes of ONE FC also have different limits to accommodate their weight cutting rules.
More spectacle at fights
This is a highly subjective area of comparison, but Rizin has a knack for showmanship more so than the UFC does. For example, fighters are allowed more freedom in how they do their walkout, and that can lead to some fun and amazing shows.
Andy Nguyen, while fighting for Rizin, recently danced to the ring dressed like Michael Jackson. In addition to that, Rizin also has their own mascot, The Cup Noodle Man, and he has become a fan favorite at Rizin’s events.
Rizin and ONE FC are also not afraid to stage fights that the UFC wouldn’t host. Rizin, for example, has hosted many kickboxing fights featuring the rising kickboxing star, Tenshin Nasukawa, including an exhibition boxing match between him and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. Both Rizin and ONE FC also host grand prix style tournaments that the UFC hasn’t done since the early days of their organization.
Fighter roster and pay
This is an area where the UFC naturally is better by virtue of being the largest and most prominent MMA organization. However, there are still plenty of good fighters in ONE FC and Rizin, and they do get paid well. For example, former UFC champions Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson fight at ONE FC.
Demetrious Johnson is widely considered to be the greatest of all time, and he notably knocked out the current flyweight and bantamweight champion of the UFC, Henry Cejudo.
Although the lesser-known fighters of ONE FC and Rizin aren’t paid well, the more famous ones are. Details are scarce, but Eddie Alvarez’s deal with ONE FC reportedly guarantees an eight-figure salary, and Demetrious Johnson’s is rumored to be higher than that. Their salaries are likely much higher than what the UFC paid them, as Demetrious Johnson was only paid $380,000 in his last UFC fight. In addition to that, some fighters are given more freedom in where they fight, as UFC fighters aren’t allowed to compete in any organization other than the UFC.
That allows some fighters, like former UFC fighter Kyoji Horiguchi, to be both a champion in Rizin and a champion in Bellator, another MMA organization. This freedom allows their fighters to earn money from as many different organizations as they’d like. On top of that, UFC fighters have limited sponsorship opportunities due to the UFC’s deal with Reebok. In comparison, fighters in ONE FC and Rizin can be sponsored by many companies, and that freedom will allow their more famous athletes to make more money overall.