A unique transaction that sends two former champions to new promotions appears to be finalized with Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren expected to fight for new organizations.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reports that the deal is complete that will see the UFC release Johnson from the remaining fights on his contract while ONE Championship out of Asia will do the same with Ben Askren.
Discussion of the move became public earlier this week after an initial report on MMA Junkie Radio and ESPN following up with a report that it was close to being finalized.
Johnson was the UFC’s first flyweight champion after defeating Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 in September 2012 and held the title until this past August when he was defeated by Henry Cejudo at UFC 217. Johnson defended the title 11 times, surpassing the previous record set by former middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Askren is a former Bellator welterweight champion where he defeated Lyman Good in October 2010 to win the championship and defended it four times before vacating the title when he was released from his contract. Askren moved to ONE in 2014 and became their welterweight champion in August when he stopped Nobutatsu Suzuki and held the title until his retirement fight in November 2017 when he defeated Shinya Aoki.