Ben AskrenIn the deal, UFC would release former flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson from his contract so that he could sign with ONE ... while ONE would free its former welterweight (170 pound) champ Ben Askren from his contract so he could realize his long-held dream of fighting in the UFC.
While what is being referred as a trade -- considered to be the first of its kind in professional MMA -- is not yet a done deal, the general consensus is that it is close to being finalized.
Askren, a two-time NCAA wrestling champ for the University of Missouri before becoming an MMA superstar, weighed in on Twitter with what he thought the odds of the deal going through, ranking it at 98 percent.
The 34-year-old Askren has an 18-0 (with one no-contest) record since launching his pro MMA career in Feb. 2009. The Wisconsin native became welterweight champ for the Bellator organization from 2010 until he was released from his contract in 2013. Askren then moved to ONE, where he won the welterweight title in 2014. His last fight -- a first-round victory over Shinya Aoki in November 2017 -- had been announced as the capstone of his unbeaten career ... but the member of the U.S. men's freestyle team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics has long made know that his dream was to compete in UFC.
Johnson, 32, had held the UFC flyweight (125-pound) crown until August, losing it to Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Henry Cejudo in August, breaking a 13-bout win streak. Johnson sports an impressive overall record of 27-3-1 in a pro career stretching back to April 2007.