After several days of rumors and Twitter hype, it’s official: former flyweight champ and GOAT contender Demetrious Johnson is leaving the UFC for ONE Championships. In exchange, ONE has released their former welterweight champ Ben Askren so he can pursue a contract with the UFC.
Dubbed by many as the first major MMA ‘trade’, the move has fans buzzing, and why not? Both Johnson and Askren were criminally underappreciated by their former organizations, and a switch could bring new life to their careers. Askren has already started Twitter feuds with half the UFC roster, and now “Mighty Mouse” is explaining the decision to leave the UFC on a ONE Championship media call.
We’ll add audio of the call as soon as it’s available. For now, here’s a breakdown of key points thanks to Damon Martin, MMA Fighting, and others.
Demetrious Johnson says he's still relatively young in his career and he's always loved watching Asian MMA so he reached out to his manager Malki Kawa to see what was possible and he made the trade happen— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says another attractive part about going to ONE is that he's no longer the smallest guy on the roster. In the UFC, he was always the smallest guy but that's no longer the case.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson has completely ruled out ever facing current #onechampionship Bantamweight Champion, his friend, and BJJ coach Bibiano Fernandes— Andrew Whitelaw (@ASTJWhitelaw) October 29, 2018
Chatri Sityodtong says there are conversations ongoing about more trades potentially down the road.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
"If I had to predict, I don't think this is the last time it happens"
Chatri Sityodtong says 'everybody wins' in this trade situation. Everybody is really happy with how this unfolded. He believes Ben Askren will prove he's the best in the world and will dominate.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says he would be open to the idea of doing a Muay Thai fight in ONE Championship.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says he never liked the way fighters promoted fights in the UFC — the trash talk or 'bullying' each other about not signing contracts, etc — he's very excited to carry himself as a martial artist in ONE Championship.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Asked if any previous disagreements with the UFC affected Johnson's decision to take part in a trade, he gave a clear answer: "No. None at all."— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says he leaves the UFC on good terms, no bad blood but he's done everything he could do there. In ONE Championship, there's new goals, new championships.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
@MightyMouse says he will make his @ONEChampionship debut early next year, most likely January or February. @YODCHATRI hinted that DJ and fellow ONE recruit @Ealvarezfight could fight on the first ever Japan card. Would be massive.— Alex Oates (@AlexJOates11) October 29, 2018
.@MightyMouse says he has no issue with earning his first ONE Championship title shot. Says he's happy to take a number-one contender fight before fighting for the belt. @YODCHATRI mentions a fight with Kairat Akhmetov as a definite possibility.— Tom Taylor (@TomTayMMA) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says ONE builds up 'heroes' — he enjoyed watching Aung La N Sang in Myanmar and the fans there treated him like a hero.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
'They are interested in promoting true martial artists'
Demetrious Johnson says there was 'nothing there' to go back and fight Henry Cejudo for a third time. He beat him once already. He knew if he went back and won the belt again, he'd have to stay in the UFC.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
Asked why he didn't stick around for a third fight with Cejudo, Johnson says there was "nothing there". He also feels that "the public wanted somebody else" as UFC flyweight champion— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 29, 2018
Interesting note from the DJ/ONE media call is that @MightyMouse would be open to competing at bantamweight in @ONEChampionship but only after he has achieved everything he would like to achieve at Flyweight.— Michael Clifton (@mclifton808) October 29, 2018
Demetrious Johnson says it's 'unfortunate' that the UFC might close the flyweight division. He believes the UFC should keep the division. But if the athletes from there want to join him in ONE Championship, he believes that will be the best place in the world to fight.— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) October 29, 2018
What do you think, Maniacs? Excited for this next chapter in the career of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson?