MMA history could be made according to Ariel Helwani of ESPN as the UFC is reportedly interested in trading former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson to the One Championship promotion in exchange for One Championship Welterweight Champion Ben Askren. The deal was first discussed on a recent episode of MMA Junkie Radio, but first reported by Helwani.
If the deal is indeed made, it would mark the first time in professional MMA history that two organizations traded their fighters to each other.
Helwani reports that in order to make the trade work, it would require the UFC to officially release Johnson from his contract and then One Championship would do the same for Askren, which would then allow both fighters to sign with the other organization.
Johnson and Askren both reportedly have multiple fights left on their contracts with their respective promotions, so it is unknown if those fights will carry over as well or if the new deals would change the amount of fights for each with the promotions.
Askren was recently asked by a fan on Twitter as to whether or not he was signing with the UFC and this was the fighter’s response:
The former UFC Flyweight Champion has spent the last seven plus years competing in the promotion, winning the UFC Flyweight Title by defeating Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152. Johnson recently lost the gold via split decision to Henry Cejudo at UFC 227, but still holds the record for most title defenses under the UFC banner.
“Funky” Ben Askren retired from MMA competition after a decisive first round TKO win over Shinya Aoki at One Championship: Immortal Pursuit in November of 2017. Askren is still the One Championship Welterweight Champion and a former Bellator MMA Welterweight Champion.
This would potentially be the second biggest signing in recent weeks for One Championship, as the promotion recently signed former UFC/Bellator MMA Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez to a deal.