UFC Reportedly on the Brink of First Major Trade in MMA History

Trades happen all the time in the four major U.S. sports, but you rarely see trades in a sport like mixed martial arts.

Now, however, a blockbuster deal reportedly is in the works between two major MMA organizations — the Ultimate Fighting Championship and ONE Championship.

The UFC is the major MMA promotion in the United States, while ONE is based in Singapore.

According to multiple media outlets, including ESPN, UFC will release former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson from his contract to allow him to sign with ONE.

In turn, ONE will release former welterweight champion Ben Askren so he can finally join the UFC.

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The deal isn’t done yet, but sources say it will happen soon, ESPN reported.

Johnson — whose nickname is “Mighty Mouse” —  is a former UFC flyweight champion. The 5-foot-3 125-pounder lost his flyweight title to Henry Cejudo in August.

Johnson, 32, had a 13-fight winning streak going into the fight. Up until then he had defended his title a record 11 times. His record in UFC is 27-3-1.

ESPN notes that Johnson’s coach, Matt Hume, also serves as ONE’s vice president of operations.

Askren (18-0, one no contest) is the former welterweight champion at ONE. The 34-year-old retired after a first-round win over Shinya Aoki in November 2017 but remained under contract with ONE.

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The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Akren is from Hartland, Wisconsin. Before he moved to MMA, Askren was a decorated collegiate wrestler. He won the NCAA championship twice in his weight class, then went on to win the U.S. championship in 2008 and the world championship in 2009.

When asked about the chances of him joining the UFC this week, Askren tweeted that he was 98 percent that he would.

Stay tuned.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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