“The trade” between former UFC flyweight king Demetrious Johnson from the UFC to ONE Championship for their welterweight champion and former Bellator champion Ben Askren set the MMA world ablaze this past week.
And because of that, it really got us thinking…this could open the door for some more MMA trades in the future. So here are 7 more possible MMA trades that would be fun to see.
Starting things off with a trade that directly relates to “the trade” is UFC welterweight and former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos for ONE Championship bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes.
“Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Fernandes are longtime training partners and now have the potential to cross paths under the ONE banner. Obviously, this won’t happen as they won’t ever agree to fight each other. Which is why an opportunity could be created for us to finally get to see one of the lighter weight classes best test himself in the UFC.
Six years ago, Fernandes was close to finding his way to the UFC but decided against it for ONE. The man hasn’t lost since then and continues to prove himself as one of the world’s best at 38-years old.
As for Dos Anjos, as good as he still is, the welterweight division is deep enough to not miss him much if he were gone. ONE would welcome him with open arms as he adds depth to their already fun welterweight division.
For the UFC, getting Dillon Danis is a huge sell for many reasons. The jiu-jitsu star is Conor McGregor‘s teammate, friend, and coach. He has called out several top UFC fighters and helped cause the melee at UFC 229.
However, a knock on Danis is that he is just 1-0 as a professional. Danis, however, could come in and test his skills at welterweight or middleweight. Whichever division he fights in, he adds a high-level grappler and a trash-talker who can sell pay-per-views.
For Bellator, it makes sense given they would receive two UFC champions. There is no secret that flyweights aren’t a sell in the UFC. With Johnson out the door, it makes sense to close the division. If they do that, Henry Cejudo would get moved up to bantamweight but instead, fight in Bellator. Bellator would receive a world-class wrestler to challenge current champion, Darrion Caldwell.
Along with that, Nicco Montano and the UFC aren’t on the best of terms after she was stripped of her title. Bellator would get another top women’s flyweight contender to help strengthen their already strong division.
It seems like a win-win for both organizations as the UFC acquires a fighter who can sell pay-per-views. While Bellator gets two high-level fighters, who both were UFC champions.
The question here has been for the last two years, “will Cain Velasquez ever fight again?”
As that question does indeed remain answerless at the moment, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t ready to return as confirmed by his longtime training partner at American Kickboxing Academy, Josh Thomson.
The problem just now comes down to getting him a fight which the UFC appears to be struggling to negotiate with him as also is according to Thomson. So in the end, if nothing can be settled and the former UFC heavyweight king really is ready and wanting to fight, might as well let him be free but try and get something in return.
And why not have that something be the thing that MMA fans have wanted for the better half of the last 15 years? That something is, of course, Fedor Emelianenko competing inside of the Octagon.
At this point in his career, “The Last Emperor” has pretty much fought everywhere except for the UFC. And despite his age, he’s been able to show that he’s still as dangerous as they come in the land of giants as evidenced by his recent back to back first round knockout wins in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix over Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen.
As for Velasquez, he could be somewhat of an unknown now after all these injuries that he’s gone through. Will that same incredible fighter we came to know and love be returning to the cage if he ever makes the walk again?
That could be [otentially too much of a gamble for the UFC to take and one that could be traded in for making every longtime fan’s dream come true.
How about this one for MMA fans. Once again Bellator and UFC make another deal involving current champions.
The UFC acquires arguably the best lightweight outside of the UFC in former Bellator world champion, Michael Chandler. A knock on Chandler’s legacy is that he never competed in the UFC, and now he could in a stacked lightweight division.
Along with Chandler, the UFC also gets Bellator flyweight champion, Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. The UFC’s flyweight division is a mess, to say the least. Montano was stripped and now Valentina Shevchenko will take on Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 for the title. Adding MacFarlane adds a legitimate contender to face the winner of that fight right away.
In this case, Bellator gets three fighters, but two of them haven’t been too active. It is known that Cris Cyborg, Nick and Nate Diaz all have gotten along with Scott Coker in the past. Bellator’s women’s featherweight division is miles ahead of the UFC’s and in this trade, they get the hands down best fighter in the division.
Nate can fight in Bellator at lightweight or welterweight and become an instant title challenger if he fights at all. However, his relationship with Coker seems promising that he would. Along with Nate, Bellator also gets another “headache” for the UFC in Nick Diaz.
The elder Diaz hasn’t fought in years but is a fan favorite and many would tune in to Bellator to watch him fight. Like his brother, Nick has a good relationship with Coker and company as he is a former Strikeforce champion.
This trade would be a blockbuster if it were to happen. It would immediately strengthen the UFC, while it would improve Bellator if the Diaz brothers were to fight in the promotion.
Anyone vs Justin Gaethje is a guaranteed barn burner. There’s no question about it anymore. We’ve seen the man go through hell and back inside the cage…but never the ring.
Gaethje’s already violent and wildly entertaining fight style would only be bolstered by Rizin’s old-school Pride FC styled rulest that allows soccer kicks, stomps, and knees to downed opponents. Just when you thought he couldn’t get any more vicious…
In return, the UFC could acquire another always entertaining lightweight in Japan’s Yusuke Yachi who has yet to not put on a show inside the Rizin ring.
On top of that throw in a man that could be one of the very best light heavyweight prospects in the world, the 26-year old Czech Republic native Jiri Prochazka.
The UFC’s light heavyweight division is always in need of new life and talent, something that Prochazka could come right in and provide immediately. And don’t worry, Prochazka is all excitement as well as in his 26 fight career (22-3-1) he’s only gone the distance once and it wound up being a draw.
PFL’s biggest star is currently the red-hot welterweight tournament finalists Ray Cooper III, no question about it.
While the promotion is doing a tournament style, it would be good to see how Cooper does not fighting as frequently. For ONE Championship, Cooper would immediately strengthen their welterweight or middleweight divisions.
Cooper has all the potential to become the next star in ONE and be a future champion. ONE is out acquiring high-level talent in like the previously mentioned Johnson and Eddie Alvarez. Add Cooper into the mix and ONE could become the next big promotion in North America.
For PFL, they are a tournament-based organization. It has worked out pretty well for them through season one as it comes to a close. But something that is great about tournaments is new fighters to cheer on.
PFL would get the current featherweight champion of ONE to come over and see just how well he would fare in North America. Nguyen can show the North American fans he is a world-class fighter, that not many would know.
In the end, both organizations would benefit from the trade. ONE already knows how trades will work and it seems plausible they will strike another at some point
For many years now Poland’s Mamed Khalidov has been one of the very best middleweights in all of the world. And like Emelianenko, fans have been hoping he will one day make his way to the Octagon.
Khalidov is easily KSW’s biggest star and could somewhat be called the Anderson Silva of KSW. However, having now lost for the first time in 15 fights after taking on the light heavyweight champion Tomasz Narkun in March, maybe after seeing how the rematch goes, he could have similar feelings that Mighty Mouse did in regards to feeling like he has done it all with the promotion.
Another man who has done it pretty much everywhere that he’s gone is Alistair Overeem who is now arguably in the twilight of his career despite still being a top heavyweight worldwide.
With the chances of Overeem ever finding himself back in the title picture uncertain, it could be fun just to see him go back overseas and compete in some wild slugfests against the likes of perhaps the previously mentioned Narkun, KSW heavyweight champion Phil De Fries, forner champ Karol Bedorf, Thiago Silva or even Mariusz Pudzianowki.
What are some MMA trades that you think might be fun to see? Sound off in the comments below!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/29/2018