How Could the Askren and Johnson Swap Affect the Future of UFC and ONE Championship?
The past couple of months have been quite exciting for the MMA world, and this trend is obviously bound to continue.
There are strong rumors that the UFC and the ONE Championship are working on a swap deal that will see Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson switch organizations. And the MMA community has gone mad about this one.
Although it’s not yet confirmed, I can’t help but share my opinion on how this potential deal would completely change the landscape of these organizations.
Some might like it, some might hate it, but both fighters are immensely talented, and this could be the best way forward for both of them.
Let’s waste no more time and dive deep into the details about this one.
There are four sides in this one: the two organizations and the two fighters. They all have a lot to gain or lose from a potential deal like this, so I will try to separately explain how this would work.
I decided to start with the fighters first.
For years, Ben Askren has been considered as one of the best, if not the best, fighters that haven’t been a part of the UFC. The man has been a dominant champion, with a record of 18 wins and one no contest during his career.
That’s right – Ben Askren is one of the few unbeaten fighters in the MMA world.
His dominant style and wrestling background make him a lethal finisher, as he has both a bunch of knockouts and submissions during his career. Askren’s style is considered a bit unorthodox, as he’s been able to successfully take down his opponents in various ways.
After completely crushing every semi-decent fighter that’s not in the UFC, Askren seems to have retired recently and explained that the lack of competition is the main reason behind his decision.
A potential bout with the legendary Georges St-Pierre was one of the reasons he might’ve returned, but that looks unlikely.
Well, it seems that Askren is now motivated to extend his legacy by joining the UFC, and I salute him for this decision. The man is only 34 and hasn’t taken that much punishment during his career, so I feel he is still in his prime, although towards the end of it.
A couple of big wins in the UFC will cement Askren’s achievements, and there’s one potential bout that could even catapult him to the GOAT conversation.
It’s time for me to finally address the elephant in the room and mention a certain Russian fighter that’s also unbeaten and an extremely talented grappler.
That’s right – I’m talking about Khabib Nurmagomedov here.
I honestly feel that he has to fight Ferguson first, as Tony deserves his shot, but Askren must be the next in line.
This fight could be epic, and Khabib has fought in the welterweight division before. In fact, he always struggles to cut weight comfortably for the lightweight division, so one could argue that the upper class is more natural for his body.
The way I see it, Khabib should fight Tony Ferguson, and Askren should take on another solid UFC fighter to get back in shape. If they both win, they can then face each other in an epic fight. Honestly, I can’t wait for this one!
Just take a look at this tweet by Askren and tell me you are not hyped for that bout!
Many people disregard the achievements of Demetrious Johnson because of the rather unbalanced flyweight UFC division, but the man is the most dominant champion in the history of the organization.
Before losing his title against Henry Cejudo recently, the Mighty Mouse managed to defend it an astonishing eleven times.
He certainly is one of the greatest champions in MMA history and a man that deserves complete and utter respect. I think he didn’t get that in the UFC, which is the main reason behind his motivation to move to the ONE Championship.
We don’t know any details yet, but I feel that Johnson will be treated like a superstar in the new organization. He will be one of the main faces there, so I expect that he is switching his employer in order to receive the fame and money he earned during his time in the UFC.
Johnson has beaten everyone he can, most of the time in a spectacular fashion. We’ve seen all kinds of finishes by Demetrious Johnson, including some crazy knockouts and submissions.
I will certainly feel sad and miss him a bit, but I think that the man has earned the right to do what he thinks is best for him and his family. His legacy as a fighter is undisputed, so it’s time to take care of the future.
I wish Demetrious Johnson all the best, and I will certainly watch him demolish the competition in ONE Championship the way he’s been doing for years in the UFC.
As we saw, the move would make perfect sense for both fighters, but what about the organizations involved? I would say that they are taking all the risks here, so let’s take a deeper look.
I will start with the bigger organization because I feel that this is a high risk/high reward move for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
It’s well known that Ben Askren doesn’t like Dana White and has even called him “a scumbag” in the past.
This is among the reasons why such a great champion didn’t end up in the UFC, even though the organization is known as the home of the best fighters in the world.
But despite the harsh words by Askren, Dana White has stated multiple times in the past that he would be looking to sign him.
I don’t think this would’ve been possible unless the UFC could offer Askren a truly epic fight that could elevate his legacy. We all thought that GSP would’ve been the man to face him, but I feel that the recent hype around Khabib Nurmagomedov is another big reason for Askren joining the UFC.
Make no mistake, it probably won’t happen immediately, but this is White’s plan for this move. He will build the hype around those two by giving Askren an exciting first fight, and if he wins, the super fight against Khabib is imminent.
The good news for the UFC is that Askren is a well-known trash talker with an unbeaten record. Some of the more casual fans might not know him yet, but the organization certainly has a lot to work with.
There is one big problem, though. As I said, I don’t think that the UFC will be looking to match those two instantly. Askren has already called out Colby Covington, while Khabib is currently suspended and most likely to fight Tony Ferguson next.
If one of the two loses, this could ruin the plans of the organization. And they will pay for it by losing one of their greatest former champs in Demetrious Johnson and sacrificing the flyweight division that was thin even with Mighty Mouse in it.
I think that’s a reasonable risk for the UFC, however, as neither the division nor Johnson himself was a big draw for PPVs.
On the surface, the biggest loser of a potential swap would be the ONE Championship. The organization will have to split ways with arguably its greatest and most attractive fighter.
However, many forget the fact that Askren actually retired and had no motivation to fight anyone in the ONE Championship.
What’s the point of having an asset like him if you can’t take advantage?
This is the reason the move seems really smart for the organization. It will get a well-known face like Demetrious Johnson and a fighter that has a long list of explosive moves.
On top of that, the Mighty Mouse will be fully motivated to earn a lot of cash and prove to the UFC that he can draw the attention of the crowds.
Even if it doesn’t work as well as the ONE Championship is hoping for, I feel that they have nothing to lose.
It’s a rather safe move that will certainly bring some fans and a true warrior in Demetrious Johnson.
I’m sure that plenty of people will share a negative opinion about the potential swap between Askren and Johnson, but I feel it makes sense for everyone involved.
This deal will probably boost the popularity of both fighters, brings some positives to the organizations, and the fans might enjoy a truly legendary fight between Askren and Khabib.
What do you think about the potential deal between the UFC and the ONE Championship? Do you like it or hate it?
Let me know in the comments below.