For fans of mixed martial arts, the past number of hours have been very exciting as talks of a potential trade between ONE Championship and the UFC can result in Ben Askren moving to the West while Demetrious Johnson can be plying his trade in the East.
Social media has been buzzing as two of the biggest MMA promotions are about to complete a first-ever trade. Given the names that are included, this is a pretty big deal and something that should not be taken lightly.
On one hand, Dana White and company are getting one of the best fighters in the world currently not signed with their organisation.
Before Askren even landed with ONE Championship, there have always been talks that he should be with the UFC.
With a 12-0 record before signing with ONE Championship, Askren was already touted as one of the best wrestlers who crossed to MMA. Since his debut with the Singapore-based company in 2014, he remains unbeaten at 18-0-1.
He last fought in November 2017 at ONE Championship – Immortal Pursuit, where he TKO’d Shinya Aoki in under a minute.
On the other hand, there’s Johnson who is 27-3 and was a long-time UFC Flyweight Champion.
Nicknamed “Mighty Mouse,” Johnson has been with the UFC since 2011 and beat Norifumi Yamamoto via unanimous decision in his debut.
He would eventually win the inaugural flyweight title, beating Joseph Benavidez in a close split decision. What followed next was an impressive run of 11 consecutive title defences before losing to current champion Henry Cejudo in a close split decision in UFC 227.
Currently 32 years old, Johnson is widely considered as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters to ever grace the Octagon.
DOES ASKREN WIN BY MOVING TO THE UFC?
So many fighters said stuff about me in the past. I don’t even get hit. I might tell @ufc to set up a bum of the month club and fight every month!
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 25, 2018
With 2018 almost over, it was pretty clear that there were no more intriguing fights for Askren to take in ONE Championship. His run of dominance has been evident, highlighted by him winning the welterweight title in his second match with the promotion.
He would go on to defend the title three times, with one match ending in a no contest while another being a catch-weight match with Nikolay Aleksakhin failing to make weight for the title.
However, the 34-year-old is way overdue for a move to the UFC and him moving is the best for his career as it opens up a plethora of challenges for “Funky.”
Current champion Tyron Woodley would make for a great match-up but many would argue that Askren still needs to fight other top stars before a title fight.
It appears that Askren has the same thing in mind, already using social media to launch scathing attacks on various welterweight contenders in the organisation – further feeding the fire of his expected arrival with the company.
To die-hard MMA fans, Askren is a proven commodity and someone who should not be taken lightly. However, for those who are concentrated on the UFC, Askren might be another cocky fighter who has not battled the best.
This is why moving to the UFC is not only best for him, but also for the fans as the stage is finally set for “Funky Town” to take over.
DOES MIGHTY MOUSE WIN BY MOVING TO ONE CHAMPIONSHIP?
Good night world. Just so everyone knows I am pumped and excited for the future stay tuned!! #newadventure
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouse) October 25, 2018
Meanwhile, DJ is already a household name after almost cleaning up the division with impressive wins.
Even in his loss to Cejudo, some could make the argument that he won and that a rematch is immediately warranted for the long-time title holder.
As for the potential move, the best way that Johnson benefits from this is that he enters an organisation that highlights the lighter weight classes.
With the UFC, they’ve always had trouble marketing the lighter weight classes as UFC fans appear to be drawn towards the heavier fighters.
Johnson has also been vocal about the difference of treatment he’s getting as compared to the other champions despite the accomplishments he’s attained in the organisation.
To put it in perspective, Johnson holds the UFC record for most title defences with 11 and second-longest title reign at 2142 days which is only 15 days shorter than the longest reign held by Anderson Silva.
However, most overlook him as fighters like Jon Jones, Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Daniel Cormier are often in the spotlight as the best ever.
With him moving to ONE Championship, he will easily slot himself as one of the biggest faces in a promotion that give more than enough attention to the faster and more technical fighters.
Sure, there is a lack of big names when compared to the UFC, but at this point of his career, Johnson has nothing to prove and assuming he dominates in ONE Championship, he will only continue to add to his storied career.
Furthermore, ONE Championship prides itself as a promotion in constant search for rising stars and with the lighter weight class, DJ will always have new and interesting challenges in the future.
Demetrious Johnson for Ben Askren is a great trade for both parties.
Might mean the end of the UFC’s flyweight division though.
— Ben Kiely (@TheJivemaster) October 24, 2018
With that in mind, this move should be executed as quickly as possible to start building up the hype as the fighters arrive in their new promotions.
ONE Championship continues to grow and sign big fighters and DJ arriving will easily be their biggest signing to date.
On the other hand, Askren to the UFC will simply add more depth to one of the most exciting divisions in the promotion, and further cement the promotion as the place to be for top welterweights.
Once the move becomes official, then we can start discussing the endless possibilities that are in front of these two superstars.