On Oct. 27, 2018, the MMA world was shaken up as it was announced the UFC and ONE Championship made a trade. The Las Vegas-based promotion traded longtime flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, to the Singapore-based promotion for the former welterweight champion, Ben Askren.
Right away, fans wondered who came out on top in this trade. The UFC was sending one of the greatest fighters of all time in Johnson for an undefeated Askren who could sell fights with his trash-talk. It seemed like a win-win for both fighters and promotions at the time. But, one year later, is it still a win-win?
Before Ben Askren made the walk to the Octagon he had a ton of hype surrounding him. Then his debut ended in controversy as he submitted Robbie Lawler in the first round of UFC 235, but “Ruthless” didn’t tap and didn’t appear to go unconscious. Nonetheless, it was a win for “Funky” and he remained undefeated at 19-0.
In his second fight, the lead-up to it was intense as Askren was taking on Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239. A win would get Funky a title shot but that is far from what happened. “Gamebred” landed a perfectly executed flying knee and knocked Askren out cold in five seconds to hand him his first professional loss. In his third UFC fight, he headlined his first show in the Las Vegas-based promotion as he took on Demian Maia. He was submitted in the third round.
Although Ben Askren is just 1-2 in his UFC career, the trade also impacts Jorge Masvidal greatly. Without the Askren fight, Masvidal would likely not be the massive star he is today and be headlining UFC 244 against Nate Diaz for the BMF title, which most likely never would have been created without the Askren fight.
Demetrious Johnson has had about a perfect year in ONE Championship as he could have. Right when he was acquired, the promotion started a flyweight grand prix, that “Mighty Mouse” was included in. The winner of the grand prix was promised a flyweight title shot.
In his first fight, Johnson struggled a bit against a taller and bigger Yuya Wakamatsu. Yet he managed to pull out a submission win to advance to the second round. He then edged out a decision win over Tatsumitsu Wada, in what was a far closer fight than many expected.
In the tournament final, Johnson took on Danny Kingad, who many pegged to be his toughest fight in ONE to date. Yet Johnson ended up using his wrestling to take Kingad to the mat time and time again to take a dominant decision win.
Just like that, in one year, Demetrious Johnson is ONE Championship’s flyweight grand prix champion and will fight flyweight champion, Adriano Moraes for the belt in 2020. It has been a heck of a year for Mighty Mouse and ONE Championship.
Even though Ben Askren has had mixed results, he is the big draw the UFC anticipated and even made Jorge Masvidal a star. Demetrious Johnson, meanwhile, is undefeated and become a star in Asia for ONE Championship. So, it really is a win-win for both promotions one year later.
Who do you think won the Ben Askren-Demetrious Johnson trade? Let us know in the comment section.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/27/2019.