A hypothetical Bellator, ONE Championship cross-promotional card has MMA Twitter buzzing.
MMA fans can dream, right?
At The Forum in Inglewood, CA, AJ McKee topped Bellator 263 with a first-round guillotine choke, where he defeated Patricio Freire, earning him the $1 million prize as the featherweight tournament champion. The victory cemented McKee’s place in Bellator history, as he strongly made the case as one of the best pound-for-pound featherweights in the world.
Almost immediately after McKee’s upset victory, fans and media members began to speculate about a “what-if” scenario in terms of cross-promotional bouts between different organizations. While the UFC doesn’t welcome many cross-promotional opportunities, outside of an occasional dip into boxing or when the No. 1 MMA promotion experimented with sending its fighters over to PRIDE FC to determine who was the best in the world during the mid-2000s, Bellator does. Its long-standing relationship with RIZIN FC has made it more than just a traditional fight organization.
That’s when a Twitter user, Caposa, presented a fascinating hypothetical card that would feature ONE Championship’s best fighters try their hand against some of Bellator’s best champions. For a hardcore MMA fan, these match-ups are the ones dreamt about with friends when discussing fights that absolutely have to happen before the sport finally dies out, if ever.
The proposed lineup is below, and wow, does it look like fun.
AJ McKee vs. Christian Lee
Patricio Pitbull vs. Thanh Le
Alexandr Shabliy vs. Timofey Nastyukhin
Juliana Velasquez vs. Xiong Jing Nan
Goiti Yamauchi vs. Shinya Aoki
Yoel Romero vs. Aung La Nsang
Mads Burnell vs. Gary Tonnon
Usman Nurm vs. Iuri Lapicus
MMA crossover fights are not a new concept
While the UFC was trying to gain legitimacy in the U.S., PRIDE FC was dominating the Japanese MMA scene. That’s when Dana White decided to send Chuck Liddell, his biggest draw, to Japan in order to find out who the best light heavyweight in the world was. Unfortunately for the UFC, the 2003 Grand Prix failed miserably, as Liddell was finished by Quinton Jackson in the second round of the tournament.
If and when a Bellator, ONE Championship partnership does happen, the world will stop and watch.