Trade Finalized Sending Ben Askren to the UFC, Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship

A historic trade — the first of its kind in the industry — that will send Ben Askren to the UFC and Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship has been finalized.

A historic trade — the first of its kind in the industry — that will send Ben Askren to the UFC and Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship has been finalized.

Sources close to the situation confirmed on Saturday that the deal was done following an initial report from ESPN. ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong also confirmed the news on Saturday.

Johnson also later acknowledged the completion of the trade via Twitter.

Since news of the proposed swap was first revealed, both fighters involved have all but confirmed their desire for the deal to go through.

Askren, a former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion, has been calling out just about everybody in the upper echelon of the UFC ranks from Khabib Nurmagomedov to Colby Covington and anyone else in between.

Askren has long coveted the chance to compete against the elite welterweights in the UFC but he had a tumultuous relationship with UFC president Dana White and the two sides could never strike a deal.

Until now.

As for Johnson, it was his team that reportedly struck up the conversation in the first place to send the longest reigning UFC champion in company history to the Asian based promotion.

Johnson’s head coach Matt Hume is an executive vice president at ONE Championship so the relationship was already there and “Mighty Mouse” has been somewhat at odds with the UFC ever since he declined a short notice fight against T.J. Dillashaw last year.

Now Johsnon will join a promotion that heavily promotes the lighter weight divisions where he competes while his coach just happens to be one of the organization’s top executives.

Johnson is arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the history of the sport who fought for titles at both 125 and 135 pounds in the UFC. As for Askren, the former Olympic wrestler is undefeated as a professional fighter and now he’ll get the opportunity to prove he’s one of the best welterweights in the world when he joins the UFC roster.

There’s no word yet on when Askren or Johnson will debut for their respective promotions but obviously if the deal is done, it probably won’t take long for the UFC or ONE Championship to get moving on capitalizing on this historic deal.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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