For the first time since the historic trade between Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White is talking about the departure of his greatest champion ever for a man he’s never really had a good relationship with.
While UFC still has to work out a contract with “Funky,” White says the wrestling standout will come right in and take on a top five opponent for his Octagon debut.
“I don’t know, we are still working on it. Obviously he is going to come into the welterweight division. He’s undefeated,” he said to the ever-present cameras of TMZ Sports. “He is their champion, so we are excited about it. He is definitely going to fight someone in the top five.”
Ben wasted no time in calling out pretty much the entire 170-pound roster, but if he had his choice, he’d face off against current Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a catchweight bout. Though that seems a bit farfetched.
There is always Georges St-Pierre, a man Ben has had his eye on for quite some time.
As far as losing his most-dominant champion ever, White says he wishes “Mighty Mouse” the best in his career moving forward, though he can’t help but to feel Johnson was truly never happy with being in UFC, and the lack of love from fights fans.
“If you look at it, the kid broke the record for the most title defenses. I feel like never really got the love and the respect that he deserved from the fans,” said White. “I don’t know that he was always thrilled being here, so hopefully he’s a lot happier where he’s headed now. His longtime trainer and coach is an executive there, so maybe he will be happier there.”
Some may say Johnson never really got the love he deserved from the promotion, either.
Nevertheless, “Mighty Mouse” will now be showing off his skills overseas for ONE Championship, which, as White mentioned, will see Demetrious team up with his longtime trainer Matt Hume, who serves as the promotion’s Vice President of Operations.
As for Askren, now that the boss has spoken, predicting his opponent just got a bit easier as the field has been dwindled down to five.