The hot stove is burning early — in mixed martial arts?
UFC and ONE Championship are close to finalizing what could be considered the first major trade in MMA history, multiple sources told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Wednesday.
The reported trade essentially would be a swap involving former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and former ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren.
UFC reportedly will release Johnson from his UFC contract to allow him to sign with ONE, while ONE reportedly will release Askren to allow him to sign with UFC. Sources told Helwani that both Johnson and Askren have multiple fights remaining on their respective contracts.
The “trade” hasn’t been finalized yet, sources told Helwani, but all parties involved reportedly are hopeful it will be finalized soon. When it’s finalized, it’ll be a groundbreaking moment in MMA history, as transactions like this simply don’t happen in MMA like they do in other sports.
Johnson, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse,” dropped the UFC flyweight championship to Henry Cejudo in August, ending a 13-fight winning streak that included a record-breaking 11 successful title defenses.
Askren, also a former Bellator welterweight champion, announced his retirement after a first-round win over Shinya Aoki in November 2017 but later left the door open for a potential return to MMA.
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