Instead of putting Demetrious Johnson or Eddie Alvarez into direct title fights, ONE Championship will use them in grand prix events in 2019.
The promotion confirmed plans for both a flyweight and lightweight event starting next year. Both recently signed with ONE, an Asia-based promotion, from the UFC.
“ONE Championship is a different organization. ONE Championship is for martial artists, by martial artists,” ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong said. “Every fight promotion in the world wants to put on a fight. In ONE Championship, we want to build and unleash real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, inspiration, and courage. We want real martial artists to stand up. Martial arts is not about fighting and violence. It is about unleashing your greatness in life. This is the real beauty of martial arts. I want the entire world to look at our heroes and be inspired through their lives because they bare their souls to the world with every triumph and every failure.”
Johnson, who defended the flyweight title in the UFC a record 12 consecutive times said “I spent seven years in North America fighting the best in the world. I’ve never travelled to Asia to fight the best. I think now is the perfect time to do it. Now that they just announced a World Grand Prix for the flyweight division, it’s has always been a dream of mine to actually compete in Asia in a World Grand Prix. The biggest thing that you can expect from me for coming over here to compete in Asia is that I’ll do my best. I am taking no shortcuts.”
Alvarez, a former Bellator and UFC lightweight champion, added “It was in Asia where I made a name for myself and started my career. Everything has come full circle for me. I can’t say how excited and grateful I am to be part of the ONE Championship family. This is where true martial arts lives. I’ve been away from Asia so long. It’s good to be back. I feel like I found my way again with ONE Championship. I can respect my opponents, and I can go in and fight like a man. I know my lifelong martial arts journey will be truly appreciated here.”