A trade has been finalized that will send Ben Askren to the UFC in exchange for Demetrious Johnson, who will now compete in ONE Championship.
Sources close to the situation confirmed the news on Saturday following an initial report from ESPN. ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong also announced Johnson joining the promotion on Saturday.
Please join me in welcoming the #1 pound-for-pound king, @MightyMouse, to ONE Championship! His extraordinary achievements speak for themselves, but I am most impressed by his character, his values, and his life story. #GOAT
— Chatri Sityodtong (@YODCHATRI) October 27, 2018
Johnson also seemingly confirmed the news via Twitter.
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouse) October 27, 2018
No trade of this kind has ever been executed by two mixed martial arts promotions of this size with the UFC giving up the longest reigning champion in company history while ONE sends an undefeated former welterweight champion to a new home inside the Octagon.
According to sources, Johnson’s management team brokered initial conversations about the potential trade and eventually the two sides came together to make the deal work.
Johnson has been at odds at times with UFC president Dana White over the past year but a big part of his desire to compete for ONE Championship likely also stems from his head coach Matt Hume serving as an executive vice president at the promotion.
Johnson was an 11-time defending flyweight champion before he fell in a close decision to Henry Cejudo earlier this year.
As for Askren, the former Olympic wrestler and two-time NCAA Division I champion has coveted the opportunity to compete against the best fighters in the world in the UFC but was never able to strike a deal with the organization when he was a free agent.
Askren is undefeated and a former champion in both Bellator MMA and ONE Championship. He actually retired last year following a 57-second TKO against former ONE lightweight champion Shinya Aoki before surrendering his welterweight title.
Askren’s retirement was never set in stone, however, as he always talked about a few specific fights that would draw him back into action. The chance to finally compete in the UFC was apparently enough to get Askren interested in fighting again and now that’s where he’ll call home.
No deal of his magnitude has ever happened again and it’s unknown if it will ever happen again.
Not only were the UFC and ONE Championship able to work together to strike this deal but the fighters involved both wanted this to happen, which made the entire process that much smoother.
Now it’s just a matter of time before Askren is making his UFC debut and Johnson competes inside the ONE Championship cage.