MMA history is about to be made with a shocking talent exchange.
The “trade” will reportedly involve the UFC releasing Johnson from his contract, and ONE doing the same with Askren so that the fighters are free to change organizations. Per ESPN, this deal has been discussed at length, but not been finalized yet.
Should everything go as planned, both promotions would be moving two of the most dominant champions in their respective histories. Johnson (27-3-1) reigned as the UFC flyweight champion for the last six years, breaking the company record for most consecutive and total successful title defenses with 11. The 32-year-old’s unbeaten run came to an end this past August when he lost a rematch with Henry Cejudo at UFC 227 via split decision.
Askren, 34, has widely been regarded as one of the best fighters to never step inside the Octagon. The two-time Division I NCAA wrestling champion is unbeaten in 19 professional bouts (including one no-contest) and he has won and defended titles in ONE and Bellator. He needed just 57 seconds to TKO Shinya Aoki last November, in what Askren said would be his last fight, but he later mentioned the possibly of returning to face a big name like welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre or current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
In the past, Askren has had a contentious relationship with UFC president Dana White, but recently tweeted that there was a strong chance he would end up in the promotion:
Bellator president Scott Coker couldn’t help but have some fun once news of the potential trade broke, suggesting that the move was giving him ideas of his own:
Trades...— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) October 24, 2018