The UFC and former flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson have confirmed the fighter’s trade to ONE FC in exchange for Ben Askren. The deal marks the first major fighter-for-fighter trade in pro MMA.
Rumors that the trade was in the works began last week, with reports suggesting that Johnson had asked to be released from his existing contract with the UFC in order to sign with ONE. Askren is the former ONE welterweight division champ. Both fighters had multiple fights remaining on their respective contracts.
Johnson’s most recent performance in the UFC was his first loss in ages, the end of an undefeated streak 13 matches long that had put him in the running for GOAT status among some MMA fans. Henry Cejudo defeated Johnson in a split decision, sparking talk of a rematch. But ESPN.com reports that the loss was directly linked to Johnson’s exit, devised by his management team at First Round.
Askren, formerly of Bellator, retired after his victory about a year ago over welterweight Shinya Aoki. He later expressed interest in continuing to fight if it was against some of the bigger names in the UFC, namely Georges St-Pierre, Conor McGregor, and both Diaz brothers.
Contracts are expected to be signed later this month.