When we think about mixed martial arts, one promotion tends to stand out well above the rest, and that is the UFC. But regardless of how well or not well the UFC is doing, there’s other promotions that exist out there, and some even offer really good entertainment competition to the aforementioned king of the MMA world.
So without anymore pointless words being injected into this piece I’m going to list the promotions I feel are the top three promotions that aren’t the UFC, so buckle up and lets take a trip down the road known as “not quite the top”
#3 – KSW
Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki, or KSW as it’s more commonly referred to, is a Polish promotion that was founded all the way back in 2004 (That’s 15 years ago as of when this article was written in case you don’t feel old enough yet), through the years they have cemented themselves as one of the premier organizations in Europe.
Starting out with an old school bang by having one night tournaments that consisted of four, or eight man brackets. They have since taken the more common approach of having traditional fight cards were each fighter only competes once per event.
With plenty of former UFC veterans on their roster and KSW veterans who transitioned to the UFC (Alexander Gustaffson, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and Jan Blachowicz to name a few) there is no shortage of high level mixed martial arts competition in Poland.
Although still on the outside looking in when it comes to being among the premier organizations in the world, KSW has soared in popularity in recent years and definitely has a bright future in the ever evolving world of mixed martial arts. Also now with the UFC focusing in on the ‘Sporting’ side of MMA, KSW (with no drug testing) hopes to rebuild the Pride FC vibe of having gargantuous units fighting for pure entertainment. The JUST BLEED-ness lives on in Polska.
#2 – Bellator
Now I know what you’re thinking, with such high level fights as 200 year old Machida vs 175 year old Sonnen how could this not be number 1? Well let me explain!
On a serious note, Bellator has gained a bit of a reputation as an organization that glorifies freak show fights and in my opinion they haven’t done much to quell that either, especially with some of their most recent cards featuring fighters almost a decade past their prime.
Through all of the freak show fights Bellator has shown some penchant for producing their own top talent, with such fighters as Ben Askren, Michael Chandler, the Pitbulls and UFC Champion Eddie Alvarez.
With their current roster that includes fighters many of us MMA fans adore such as Rory Macdonald, Ryan Bader, and everyone’s favorite Dillon Danis (Dont @ me) they have the true star power to get eyes on their events.
There is a bit of an uncertain future for their current welterweight grand prix tournament with the ‘interesting’ behavior of Rory MacDonald following his draw (I thought he lost) with former fellow UFC title contender Jon Fitch. Overall the grand prix tournament format has been a nice touch from the promotion that offers us a bit of a glimpse to the glory days of old from now defunct organizations such as Pride FC, but with their own modern twist.
As a fan of all things MMA. I’m pretty excited to see what Bellator does next.
#1 – ONE FC
Ok, I don’t even know where to start with this organization! Personally I have become a bigger fan of theirs by the day. From revolutionizing the sport by introducing a new weight cutting system that at least on the surface appears to be unable to be cheated, to introducing us to high level fighters that most MMA fans had never heard of such as Cosmo Alexandre (Sorry Sage).
ONE FC came into the world back in 2011 under CEO and Founder Charti Sityodtong and ever since has grown exponentially, to the point that most MMA insiders are even calling ONE the UFC of Asia.
The Singapore based promotion has enjoyed interesting crossover success when they made a monumental trade with the UFC aquiring Eddie Alvarez, Sage Northcutt, and the fighter I believe to be the GOAT Demetrious Johnson. What makes this acquisition of talent interesting isn’t just watching them leave, but watching them have trouble against ONE’s homegrown talent. Alvarez who is a former UFC champion, was TKO’d in the first round by someone who’s name I couldn’t pronounce if I tried, and poor Sage Northcutt literally had his face broken, by Cosmo Alexandre, and even though DJ did end up winning it wasn’t with out a fight, even getting tagged pretty good in the first round.
Now after everything I’ve said about ONE so far, there is still more than I can reasonably fit in this piece, but I will mention one last thing; Fighter Pay. ONE has given massive contracts to the aforementioned former UFC fighters. As ONE FC continues to grow I geek out with excitement to see where they go from here.
PFL, Invicta, Venator FC, Combate Americas, and Rizin.
Written by Joshua Sloan