History was made in the world of mixed martial arts. The UFC teamed up with ONE FC to complete the first-ever trade between MMA leagues. The UFC is shipping out the former pound-for-pound king and flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, to ONE FC. ONE FC on the other hand, is sending “Funky” Ben Askren, the undefeated and decorated wrestler, to the UFC.
ONE FC is the largest fight promotion in Asia, even larger than the UFC. This trade, unlike other sports, was between two organizations, not teams.
So what can we make of this historical moment? Who wins this trade and who loses it? I’m going to get right to the point: the ONE FC executives must be jumping for joy right now. They just landed a fighter, who a couple months ago, was being touted as one of the greatest fighters of all time before he was handed a split decision lost to Henry Cejudo.
The historic Demetrious Johnson vs. Ben Askren trade is a done deal, multiple sources confirm. Full story coming shortly to @espn.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 27, 2018
Johnson is exceptionally technical in every aspect of mixed martial arts. When you mix that with unmatchable quickness and speed, you get the best flyweight to ever walk on the planet. Mighty Mouse has never been known for self promoting himself or selling large pay-per-views, so I cannot say this move will hurt the UFC that much.
ONE FC, on the other hand, has made a substantial leap in 2018. They started off by inking Eddie Alvarez to a rumored 8 figure deal. They followed that up by picking up Johnson. We can expect Johnson to reign supreme over that flyweight division. Geje Eustaquio is the current flyweight champion and he sports an 11-6 record. I just don’t see Eustaquio having anything for DJ.
The most interesting part in this trade is Askren finally ending up in UFC head Dana White’s play pen. Askren and White have had a history together. White labeled Askren a boring fighter, even going so far to say, “When Ambien can’t sleep, it takes Askren.” He tweeted this a while ago, insinuating Askren wasn’t the most entertaining fighter to watch. Askren is extremely efficient on the ground, dominating all of his opponents through his wrestling.
White swore at one point that Askren would never fight in the UFC, yet here he is. So what does this really mean?
This means that every fighter in the lightweight and welterweight divisions need to be on their toes. It doesn’t matter if you’re Conor McGregor or Khabib Nurmagomedov, Askren is a name that needs to be in the back of your mind. Askren boasts a wrestling skill set that is probably equal to or on the same level as Khabib’s. The only difference? He fights a weight class above Khabib, so the man is a little larger. The UFC may have lost one of their best fighters, but Ben Askren is far from a bad replacement.