Early last week, ONE Championship announced that it had locked a multiple-bout contract with free agent Eddie Alvarez. Known as “The Underground King”, Alvarez’s arrival at ONE instantly sent shockwaves into the martial arts industry, sparking conversations about not only who about possible matchups for Alvarez under the ONE banner, but also other potential free agent signings ONE could announce.
ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong hinted that Alvarez isn’t the only big name to be joining the promotion, and that he has plans of announcing other big names in the near future. This had fans immediately speculating.
“Eddie is the first of our big signings, I think you will be surprised by announcements coming in the future,” Sityodtong said during the media conference call for ONE: Heart of the Lion last week.
The 34-year old Alvarez, a multiple-time lightweight world champion who signed an ‘eight-figure’ multi-bout deal with ONE, also shares the same sentiments with Sityodtong.
“I’m not the last large signing in the next month or so,” he said. “There will be a shift, a massive shift, in power towards ONE Championship.”
Given the promotion’s increasingly massive financial muscle, it came as little surprise that ONE Championship was able to ultimately give Alvarez the offer that he desired. And with over US$250 million of capital on their balance sheet, it’s not far off that ONE could attract even more top-tier, world-class talent.
Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest names in martial arts that ONE Championship could potentially sign if they were to become free agents.
Enter two-division world champion Georges St-Pierre.
Considered among one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, St-Pierre (26-2) is no doubt a legend in the sport, but more importantly, a true martial artist.
ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri SItyodtong has said before that he’s interested in bringing in St-Pierre.
“We’d be interested in Georges St-Pierre. He’s a kind, gentle martial artist who truly represents the values we’re looking for,” Sityodtong said via IBTimes UK. “If he was a free agent, then yes, he’s a martial artist and he truly represents our values.”
St-Pierre would easily be ONE’s biggest acquisition, and having a legend like “GSP” would definitely help in their plan of achieving a 100 million viewers per event within the next three years.
Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley
From one welterweight great to another, Tyron Woodley (19-3) could also be a massive name for ONE Championship to bring in.
Woodley has felt quite under-appreciated in the UFC, despite being a world champion, but the truth is, a star of his caliber would definitely make waves in the Asian mixed martial arts scene.
ONE Championship has plans of entering other major Asian markets in the very near future, with a Japan expansion already set in stone for March 2019. Woodley joining ONE will definitely help in the promotion’s goal to achieve 100 million viewers per event within 3 years through new countries – China, Japan, Korea, and India. Woodley’s mix of high-level wrestling and exciting striking style would also easily make him a favorite among ONE Championship followers.
Furthermore, his teammate Ben Askren is the former ONE Welterweight World Champion, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Askren could entice Woodley to jump to ONE.
Rafael “RDA” Dos Anjos
Sityodtong could also look into bringing in one of his old friends in former lightweight world champion Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10).
Sityodtong and Dos Anjos have worked together at Evolve MMA. Sityodtong also previously cornered for Dos Anjos in past bouts. The Brazilian star has shown nothing but utmost respect for ONE Championship’s head honcho.
A decorated competitor such as Dos Anjos would definitely be a welcome addition to ONE Championship’s lightweight division.
While established stars are very much coveted, it also wouldn’t hurt to bring in some young guns, and a talented up-and-comer like Sage Northcutt (11-2) could be a possible candidate.
Talented and humble, Northcutt is also a perfect example of a true martial artist who embodies the values of honor and respect, among others. Northcutt previously revealed that he had also been fielding offers from other promotions, and could envision himself competing under the ONE Championship banner.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is kickboxing superstar Tenshin Nasukawa, one of the hottest stars right now in striking martial arts.
Tenshin recently joined Singapore’s Evolve Fight Team, in the same country ONE operates out of. The Japanese wunderkind easily has one of the biggest followings in recent memory where striking martial arts is concerned.
ONE Championship could potentially bring Tenshin on in its ONE Super Series arm. ONE Super Series, launched in early 2018, brings together the absolute best in the world of striking martial arts, which includes kickboxing, Muay Thai, submissions grappling and boxing.
Other big names ONE has signed in the past include Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Yodsanklai Fairtex, Renzo and Ralph Gracie, Garry Tonon, and The Ring Magazine and two-time WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
Which fighters can you picture fighting in the ONE Championship cage in the future?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/23/2018.