By Wesley Woods
November 24, 2018
Wesley Woods is a Sport Management major at Bowling Green State University with a minor in General Business. He is a big fan of college and professional football as well as UFC, Pro Boxing, and the NBA. His favorite sports teams are the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls.
In a world where shake-ups in sport happen every year, I am confident in saying this shakeup was on absolutely no one’s radar. Demetrious Johnson is the longest-reigning UFC champion who successfully defended the 125-pound flyweight championship an unprecedented 11 times (“Mighty Mouse,” 2018). Johnson is pound-for-pound the greatest UFC champion of all time (Rosenstein, 2018). One would not expect to hear that a trade had happened involving a fighter with Johnson’s credentials, especially since there has never been a fighter traded in the history of MMA (Rosenstein, 2018).
Johnson was traded for Ben Askren, now the former welterweight title-holder for One Championship and holder of an 18-0 record (“Ben Askren,” 2018). Askren possesses some of the greatest grappling skills in the world. For die-hard MMA fans, he now has the opportunity to prove that he is one of the greatest martial artists in the world. For years, UFC fans have wanted to see if Askren’s skills are legit. There could not be a better time for Askren to come over with the emergence of undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, the legendary GSP (Georges St. Pierre) (Rosenstein, 2018) and other names such as Darren Till, Stephen Thompson. As far as Askren is concerned, just about any male on the UFC roster could pose a threat, judging from his Twitter page. The fight fans will get to see fresh match-ups that they have never seen before. In a sport where intrigue is half the battle to get fans excited, what could be more exciting than a confident 18-0 fighter who is highly respected by his peers coming into the biggest MMA organization in the world?
Speaking of fresh match-ups, a date for Ben “Funky” Askren has been set. On January 26, there could be no better way for the UFC to ring in the New Year than to have him go toe-to-toe with UFC future Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. This is a classic match-up of a great wrestler vs. a great striker. Askren made it very clear he is not in the UFC to have favors done for him. He wants to fight the best in the world immediately and UFC President Dana White has given him just that. This will definitely be no walk in the park for Askren, as Robbie Lawler is one of the most dangerous fighters to step into the octagon; he has the ability to knockout anyone with a single punch. This could be make-or-break-it for Askren’s legitimacy, but a victory against Lawler would be huge, no matter the degree of difficulty.
On the other side of this trade, One Championship adds major star power to the brand. Fans of the greatness of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will certainly carry over to One as he will gain many fans within the organization. After interviews with Ariel Helwani, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez discussed a lucrative deal in the ballpark of 8 figures. One can only assume Mighty Mouse will have a major lucrative contract of his own, which would be well-deserved considering the accolades he has achieved. The former UFC champ has expressed his joy about the deal through interviews and social media. It is apparent that all sides of the trade are quite happy.
As long as fans, both companies and both stars are happy, there should be no true loser in this trade, right? Well, not quite. The entire UFC flyweight division is going through the ringer as there is speculation that, with the departure of long-time champion Demetrious Johnson, there may be no reason to further the division with now-champion Henry Cejudo who has already expressed the desire to move up in weight class. Comments from his future opponent, bantamweight champion T.J. Dillishaw predicting the death of the division by his hand when he faces Cejudo in a 125-pound fight to gain a second belt cannot put the current flyweights at ease upon hearing this from the current 135-pound title-holder. With the match-up between the two champions coming up, its conclusion should provide many answers as to the plans UFC has with the 125-pound flyweight division (Rosenstein, 2018).
Ben Askren. (2018). ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/mma/fighter/_/id/2500597/ben-askren
“Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson. (2018). UFC.com. Retrieved from https://www.ufc.com/athlete/demetrious-johnson
Rosenstein, G. (2018, October 26). Making sense of the Demetrious Johnson-Ben Askren trade. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/25074261/making-sense-demetrious-johnson-ben-askren-trade