Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and ONE Championship swapping two of their best fighters feels like a lifetime ago.
In late 2018, the promotions came to an agreement to let go of one top star each with the intention of the fighters jumping ships. Therefore, giving the mixed martial arts (MMA) world its first-ever trade.
UFC received top global Welterweight and ONE titleholder, Ben Askren, while ONE gained former Flyweight champion and all-time great, Demetrious Johnson. It took until just this past month (Aug. 26, 2022) for Johnson to inevitably capture ONE hardware (watch highlights), but for Askren, however, “Funky” went 1-2 in the Octagon before calling it a career and going to have a one-off boxing match with Jake Paul (watch highlights). Ultimately, “Mighty Mouse” doesn’t see either side as a bigger winner than the other.
“I think everybody won,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “Not just the organizations, but I think everybody: Ben Askren, Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards, Kamaru Usman, myself. When I say that we all won, we’re all eating good now. So you look at the UFC’s standpoint, when I was there, obviously I wasn’t the highest-selling pay-per-view guy there, and I was also very dominant, so there was not an opportunity for somebody else to be able to make a name for themselves. Then ‘Triple C’ [Henry Cejudo] came in, cringe, did his thing. But then I leave, and you get Ben Askren.
“The reason why I say Ben Askren got a chance to eat is because Ben Askren always wanted to be able to compete in the UFC,” he continued. “He got that opportunity, won a couple, then lost, and with his loss was the rise of Jorge Masvidal. And the rise of Jorge Masvidal, ‘Street Jesus,’ going out baptizing people — he fought Nate Diaz and got that ‘BMF’ (Baddest Moterf—ker) title, which there’s never been a title like that, and he gave Leon Edwards the five-piece chicken meal in the back of the arena, that kind of put eyeballs on Leon Edwards. Now you have Kamaru Usman, who fought Jorge Masvidal, and Kamaru sent Jorge Masvidal to the shadow realm.”
Johnson’s recent title win acted as a stark reminder of just how great he is. Now back competing at 135 pounds in his current fighting home, Johnson, 36, hopes to add even more title defenses to his already insane resume of accomplishments.