Five fighters you never knew fought in ONE Championship

Song Yadong & Andrei Arlovski fought in both the UFC and ONE
Song Yadong & Andrei Arlovski fought in both the UFC and ONE

ONE Championship is gearing up for its 10 year anniversary show called ONE: X in December. In light of that, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some interesting names that you may have forgotten fought in ONE.

Over the years, there have been several high-profile acquisitions made by the Singapore-based promotion. The likes of Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt arrived from the UFC to plenty of fanfare. Former UFC champions Rich Franklin and Miesha Tate were signed to vice-presidential positions at ONE as well.

Elsewhere, the likes of Giorgio Petrosyan, Sittichai and Marat Grigorian were scooped up from GLORY as ONE compiled the best Muay Thai and kickboxing rosters on the planet. Most will have already heard about these signings. If we go back a little further, however, there are plenty of names you may not have realized fought for ONE.

#5. Tim Sylvia - ONE FC: Pride of a Nation and ONE FC: Rise to Power

Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Slyvia fought twice for ONE Championship in 2013
Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Slyvia fought twice for ONE Championship in 2013

Having begun his pro MMA career with a 16-fight winning streak in 2001 - Tim Sylvia is one of the pioneers of the sport. 'The Maine-iac' is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, and signed with ONE to fight Andrei Arlovski for a fourth time in 2012 in Manila.

Having lost the UFC interim title to Arlovski in 2005, Sylvia went on to beat the Belurussian twice in 2006. He scored the TKO to win the heavyweight title in their first meeting at UFC 59: Reality Check before sealing a unanimous decision to retain the belt later that year.

Six years on from that fight, ONE Championship was gearing up for only its fifth ever show. The promotion lined up a fourth meeting between Sylvia and Arlovski to mark the occasion.

With the match ending in a no-contest, Sylvia was next in line to fight Tony Johnson.


It ended via doctor's stoppage in the third round. The result capped what was ultimately a disappointing run for Sylvia inside the ONE circle. He'd go on to have one more MMA fight - competing at super-heavyweight where he lost to Ruslan Magomedov in Moscow. He may not have bowed out with a win, but Sylvia can look back on what was a stellar MMA career overall.

#4. Andrei Arlovski - ONE FC: Pride of a Nation

Andrei Arlovski's fight with Tim Sylvia in 2012 was ruled a 'No Contest'
Andrei Arlovski's fight with Tim Sylvia in 2012 was ruled a 'No Contest'

Andrei Arlovski's tenure at ONE may have been short-lived, but it helped change the course of history over the next five years.

When 'The Pitbull' arrived to take on fellow former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in the ONE circle, the promotion allowed soccer kicks. Crucially, you could only do them if the referee gave you the 'all clear' having deemed the opponent able to defend themselves.

In this instance, Arlovski cracked Sylvia with two big right hands to send him tumbling to the canvas. He did not have the okay to launch soccer kicks, but he did so anyway and booted Sylvia twice. The fight was ruled a no-contest. Afterwards, ONE decided to allow soccer kicks to go ahead unbridled for almost half a decade before banning them in 2016.


After his short-lived outing with ONE, Arlovski went off to fight in the World Series of Fighting (now PFL). A return to form saw him earn his way back to the UFC where he still competes at the age of 42.

He's in action this weekend against Carlos Felipe at UFC Fight Night: Ladd vs Dumont.

#3. Jens Pulver - ONE FC: Pride of a Nation, ONE FC: Rise of Kings, ONE FC: Kings and Champions

Much like his long-time rival BJ Penn, Jens Pulver fought in several different weight classes for the UFC. He was also the inaugural UFC lightweight champion.

After two separate stints competing in the octagon as well as spells with WEC, Shooto and Pride, Pulver returned to Asia to fight in ONE Championship.

Making his debut against the Philippines' Eric Kelly - 'Lil' Evil's ONE tenure did not get off to a good start as he lost via second round TKO in Quezon City. He bounced back in his next bout, which came in round one of the ONE bantamweight Grand Prix.

The American overcame China's Zhao Ya Fei via unanimous decision. In his third and final outing for ONE, he succumbed to a second round D'arce choke from Masakatsu Ueda in the semi-final of the GP.

Despite only going on to fight once more in MMA, Pulver enjoyed a fantastic career overall and boasts an undefeated record in both boxing (4-0) and kickboxing (1-0).


#2. Bob Sapp - ONE FC 2: Battle of Heroes

The much-beloeved Bob Sapp fought for ONE Championship on one occasion in 2012
The much-beloeved Bob Sapp fought for ONE Championship on one occasion in 2012

Bob Sapp's time at ONE Championship may have been short, but his overall career deserves its place in the annals of MMA folklore. The 6'5 behemoth has a personality to match his size and is beloved by legions of fans for his exploits during the Pride and K-1 era.

Sapp is a former NFL player and pro wrestler. He signed with ONE in 2012 to fight Rolles Gracie at ONE FC: 'Battle of Heroes' in Jakarta. 'The Beast' suffered a knockout loss in the first round in what was his fifth consecutive defeat. He'd go on to lose eight more fights on the bounce before enjoying a renaissance whilst fighting for Rizin in Japan.

Sapp recently made an appearance at Thailand's Fight Circus. In classic pro wrestling fashion, Sapp appeared with a gang of little people and attacked the promoter just as the feed went down.

It was arguably one of the most entertaining moments in the sport for 2020.


#1. Song Yadong - ONE FC 24: Dynasty of Champions

Song Yadong has been fighting for such a long time that it's easy to forget that he's still just 23 years old. 'The Kung Fu Monkey' trains at Team Alpha Male under Urijah Faber and is widely-viewed as one of China's biggest talents.

Song began fighting professionally when he was just 16. Before he made his way to the octagon, he fought for ONE Championship at Dynasty of Champions in Beijing.

Fighting his countryman Xian Ji - things did not go well for young Song. He lost the fight via unanimous decision in what was his first-ever pro loss.

After that, he returned to the Chinese circuit as he began to enhance his reputation. Having racked up an 11-4 (1 NC) record, Song was snapped up by the UFC and made his debut in 2017.

The talented bantamweight went on to win eight of his next ten fights in the octagon. Having briefly been in the top 15 at 135lbs, the Chinese star is considered a serious talent and no doubt has a very bright future ahead of him.


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Edited by John Cunningham
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