Demetrious Johnson (ONE Championship)

ONE Championship’s Global MMA Rule Set Versus the Unified Rules

With ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II, ONE Championship returned to U.S. primetime with a phenomenal showcase of outstanding martial arts action.  

Each main card fight ended with a spectacular finish, including three mixed martial arts bouts ending with Demetrious Johnson’s jaw-dropping flying knee knockout – and there is a notable reason for that. 

The global rule set that ONE utilizes encourages athletes to leave behind the archaic unified rule set that other organizations promote in the hunt for a highlight-reel finish. 


Had action gone to the judges for a decision, however, fans would have gotten an insight into why it may be the rule set of the future. 

Perhaps the most significant difference between the unified rules and the global rule set of ONE is how a contest is scored. 

Under the unified rules, points are awarded round-by-round via a 10-point must system, with the round winner receiving ten and the loser getting nine or less. But under the global rule set, the bout is scored as a whole. 

There is a strong case for this is being a better system to score a battle. If one athlete barely loses the first two rounds but surges in the final frame with a clear-cut third round, they would likely go down to a 29-28 decision under the unified rule set. But under the global rule set, they would win. 

Often under the unified rules set, the athlete who finishes strongest and puts in more significant work comes out on the losing end because of a slow start that didn’t matter in the long run. It rewards point fighting, which is not in the spirit of martial arts. 

Getting into the weeds of the global rule set reveals where the difference in spirit lies between the two systems. 

Aggression, damage, and near finishes are all highly rewarded, and the emphasis is on finishing the match, which many argue is the right focus to have. After all, it is a fight.

Striking combinations and ring generalship are also listed in the global rule set, which place a further emphasis on the action. The athlete who is more active and is seeking to finish the match will be rewarded overall. 

That is why officials have the ability to give yellow cards to athletes who stall the action. 

Furthermore, as fans witnessed in Moraes and Johnson’s first meeting at ONE on TNT I last year, the global rule set allows athletes to knee a grounded opponent. Moraes took advantage of this to score a decisive victory. This highlighted why the rule is a good addition to a fight, as it keeps the action moving on the ground. 

As states like Colorado approve the global rule set, fans will begin to see the two systems used side-by-side and have a chance to examine which one is best suited. 

The global rule set incentivizes athletes to seek the finish, which is what martial artists are taught. Trying to earn points toward a decision is not rewarded, and there is no gamesmanship with a round-by-round structure. 

The criteria put forth by the global rule set is why ONE continues to shine with raucous bouts that lift fans to their feet. And it is something we need to keep an eye on as, potentially, being the future of the sport.