ONE Championship and the UFC are close to finalizing a history-making fighter trade, per ESPN. This potential trade would see the UFC send former flyweight champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson to the Singapore-based promotion in exchange for former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.
While this trade is reportedly on the table, it is not official yet.
This potential arrangement was first mentioned on MMAjunkie Radio.
Per ESPN’s report, both Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson have multiple obligations left on their current contracts, which implies significant cooperation between the two mammoth MMA promotions.
Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1) last fought in August, when his longstanding reign as UFC flyweight champion and the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter came to a close after a split decision loss to Henry Cejudo.
The former UFC champion holds victories over names like Joseph Benavidez, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ian McCall, John Dodson, Ray Borg, John Moraga, Wilson Reis, and the aforementioned Cejudo. It is not known at this time what Johnson’s potential departure could mean for the long-struggling UFC flyweight division. That being said, it’s possible his departure could be the harbinger for the division’s demise.
Ben Askren (18-0) last fought in November of 2017, when he scored a TKO win over Shinya Aoki in a superfight that was supposed to serve as the last bout of his career. With this win, he improved to 6-0 in ONE Championship, building on a legendary run as Bellator’s welterweight champion.
Askren has long been interested in moving to the UFC, but has simultaneously struggled to negotiate with the promotion and its president Dana White. That said, he recently claimed there is a 98% chance he’ll fight in the promotion’s Octagon soon. It seems as though he was not exaggerating.
Stay tuned for further updates on this wild story as they emerge.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/24/2018.