Johnson-Askren swap made official

Ben Askren is heading to the UFC! Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The first ever "trade" in professional mixed martial arts is now on!

One Championship chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong officially announced on Sunday that the promotion just signed Demetrious Johnson as part of a swap that will see Ben Askren joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Both promotions decided to release Johnson and Askren of their respective erstwhile contracts to make room for the trade.

"Thank you to [Johnson], Ben Askren, One Championship, UFC, and Malki Kawa (Johnson's agent) for making the 1st trade in mixed martial arts history possible," Sityodtong said via Twitter.

Sityodtong actually hinted that the swap is now a done deal when he described Johnson in an earlier tweet: "In and out of the cage, DJ is the #1 pound-for-pound greatest martial artist in history."

Johnson then announced earlier Sunday that he is indeed going to One, hours before Sityodtong made it official.

"His extraordinary achievements speak for themselves, but I am most impressed by his character, his values, and his life story," Sityodtong further said of Johnson.

Johnson became the inaugural UFC flyweight champion after beating Joseph Benavidez on Sept. 23, 2012 (Philippine Time) at UFC 152 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

He would successfully defend the belt a UFC record-setting 11 times, including an even more impressive win against Benavidez in their rematch on Dec. 15, 2013 at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento and two wins against John Dodson.

Johnson lost the title to Henry Cejudo in their rematch at UFC 227 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, Askren initially retired from the game in 2017 with a perfect 18-0 record with one no contest.

However, he said that he is still open to fight one last time against the likes of Georges St. Pierre.

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