The first major trade in mixed martial arts history could be set to take place in the possible and immediate future.
Reported first by ESPN, a proposed deal is allegedly on the table for the UFC to release former UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson from his contract in order to allow him to sign with asia-based mma promotion ONE Championship. In return, ONE will release former Bellator and ONE Welterweight champion Ben Askren from his contract so he could finally join the UFC.
Sources say the supposed “trade” isn’t finalized just yet. Although it is also being reported that this rumored trade is close to being finalized and that both sides are captivated by this trade and are eagerly awaiting a deal that fits.
Both Johnson and Askren have multiple fights left on their respective contracts, according to sources. While trades of this kind are common in major sports, a transaction of this magnitude has never been done before in MMA.
The historically proposed deal was first discussed on MMA Junkie Radio. Johnson (27-3-1, 15-2-1 in UFC) recently lost the Flyweight title to former olympian Henry Cejudo back in August. The loss snapped a historic 13-fight winning streak, a streak that included a record-breaking 11-fight successful title defense streak.
Interestingly enough, Matt Hume, Johnson’s head coach at AMC Pankration in Kirkland, Washington, also serves as ONE’s vice president of operations. Askren (18-0, 1 no contest, 6-0 in ONE), a former Bellator welterweight champion as well, announced his retirement following his first-round victory over Shinya Aoki in November 2017.
Despite his retirement proclamation, Askren did suggest that he was open to fighting the likes of Georges St-Pierre or Rory MacDonald. On Monday, Oct. 22, Askren tweeted that there was a 98 percent chance of him joining the UFC, catching many off guard considering he has verbally sparred on a few occasions with UFC president Dana White.
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 22, 2018