In 2019, Demetrious Johnson was part of a historic trade between the UFC and ONE Championship. As something that is fairly common in other sports, trades are an incredibly rare event in the world of MMA. Following a loss to Henry Cejuo at UFC 227, ‘Mighty Mouse’ traded to the Asian mixed martial arts organization in exchange for Ben Askren.
During his appearance on ‘The MMA Hour‘ with Ariel Helwani, Johnson spoke about the trade to ONE. While DJ never got the full story of how everything went down, the flyweight great believes UFC commentator Joe Rogan played a role in it.
“Honestly, I think it was, I want to say it was me, but I still don’t have the full story of that. I still need to get more of that story, to be honest with you. I think I’ll probably release it when I’m ready to. I know how it all happened, but there’s still pieces even I don’t even know how it happened. So, I still need to find that out.
“I know Joe Rogan had something to do with that too and so, I haven’t had a chance to talk to Joe Rogan. I heard something like, he was like ‘dude, get Ben Askren. Who gives a… just get him.’ So it would be kind of interesting to hear his foresight on that. Like, why would he push that narrative, you know? So like I said, there’s still stuff I don’t really know about that.”
Demetrious Johnson Says the Trade to ONE Championship Was a Win-Win For Both Sides
Three years removed from the trade that shoot the MMA world, Demetrious Johnson discussed how both sides have gotten the most out of the deal. While Ben Askren’s UFC career highlight was being brutally knocked out just seconds into their UFC 239 bout, his signing paved the way for other stars to find success.
“No. I’m not because now it’s all about content. Content is king. With ONE, UFC, PFL, LFA. I mean, Bellator, CFFC. Everybody, there’s so many different things. I like to look at it as the streaming wars. You’ve got Hulu, Disney+, ESPN, Netflix, Amazon Prime. You have all that, but people go to the streaming service that has the best content. Netflix [has] Stranger Things, The Sandman, all the documentaries. Amazon Prime, it now has ONE Championship. It had The Terminal List. Those companies are always battling against each other to have the best content.
“So on the trade, you took me. One of the best athletes in mixed martial arts and traded to ONE Championship and you got Ben Askren which was a win-win for both sides because Ben Askren is a talker, through Ben Askren you got Jorge Masvidal. Through Jorge Masvidal you got Kamaru Usman. ONE Championship, they got me. Now they’re coming to American on Amazon Prime.
“I went over there, had a good win. I lost to Adriano (Moraes). People know who Adriano Moraes is. We’re fighting for a second time, so it’s a win-win from both sides. I don’t think the trade would ever happen now because people don’t want to give that leverage.
Since signing Johnson, ONE Championship has seen a surge in popularity. Now the promotion makes its highly anticipated debut on the Amazon Prime streaming service. With more than 200 million subscribers in North America, ONE is primed to make a splash in the United States with Demetrious Johnson at the helm.