‘Historic trade’: UFC rocked by first switch

THE UFC is reportedly on the verge of a historic fighter trade with the ONE fight promotion in a deal that will see former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson walk away.

The UFC has never previously been involved in a trade for the contract rights of fighters, despite countless stars walking back and forth between the fight promotion and rival Bellator.

That is now set to change, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, who reported on Thursday morning the UFC is about to sign off on a trade for former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who remains contacted to ONE, the Singapore-based fight promotion that has become extremely popular throughout Asia.

Both Askren and Johnson reportedly have several fights remaining in their contracts with their respective companies. Those rights will now be traded to their future fight promotions.

Askren appeared to approve the initial reports by retweeting one news story posted to Twitter. He also told one fight fan on social media he is a “98 per cent” chance of fighting in the UFC.

98% https://t.co/j80LsQW0iw

Askren announced his retirement in 2017, but admitted at the time he was still open to fighting UFC legend Georges St Pierre and other star fighters.

His move to the UFC will see Askren tested for the first time in years and gives the languishing welterweight division another potential championship contender to unsettle current champion Tyron Woodley.

The trade is, however, a major blow to the UFC’s flyweight division.

Demetrious Johnson won 13 straight fights in the UFC.Source:News Limited

Johnson remains the flyweight division’s highest profile fighter, despite surrendering his belt to Henry Cejudo in August.

Cejudo’s win ended Johnson’s record 11-straight title defences.

The UFC’s flyweight division has struggled recently for public interest and there are ongoing rumours the entire division could be killed off and the fighters forced to move up to the bantamweight division where TJ Dillashaw is currently champion.

The seismic trade stunned many fight commentators.

A historic trade is in the works between the UFC and ONE Championship that would potentially swap Demetrious Johnson for Ben Askren. Details — https://t.co/1fevHtJhOn

This is getting Fun !!!! A lot of history being made @MightyMouseUFC IMO is , and will be for a long time the best to do it ??????

Forbes reported the swap would be an “unprecedented” move for the UFC.

“If this were to take place, it would be an unprecedented orchestrated swap of talents between promotions in the sport, and it could give all parties a new beginning of sorts,” Forbes’ Brian Mazique wrote.

Huge thanks to @combatcorner for making shorts for my retirement bout!

A post shared by Ben Askren (@benaskren) on

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