Earlier today, news broke that the UFC and Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship were closing in on a historic trade that would send former UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson to Asia, and former ONE and Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren to the UFC’s Octagon.
If this trade works out, it will be a massive moment in the history of our sport, as there is not much of a precedent for major promotions swapping one fighter for another on a permanent or even long-term basis. While promotions like Bellator and Rizin have shared talent before, they have not ever truly traded fighters.
Needless to say, if this trade is successful, it might open the door to the other promotion-to-promotion trades in the future.
At least, that’s what Bellator President Scott Coker seems to be thinking. Speaking on Twitter shortly after news of this UFC – ONE Championship trade broke, Coker implied that trades are something he could get on board with in the future.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) October 24, 2018
“Trades…” the Bellator boss said, punctuating his words with a telling lightbulb emoji.
While it’s hard to imagine a world where the UFC and Bellator would swap fighters, Bellator has previously been linked to similar arrangements with ONE Championship. Most notably, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong recently suggested it’s possible that ONE Championship and Bellator could broker a deal that would allow Askren to fight Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald. With Askren potential UFC bound, of course, that now seems unlikely.
Do you think we’re entering a new era of promotions trading fighters back and forth? Where do you think Scott Coker and Bellator MMA would fit into this era?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/24/2018.