By far the biggest story in MMA to emerge this week was that the Ultimate Fighting Championship and One Championship are close to finalising the first-ever trade in MMA history. Originally reported by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the thrust of this potential deal is that the UFC will release former flyweight champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson so that he can sign with the Singapore-based One Championships, whilst One Championships will release undefeated welterweight Ben Askren so that he can sign with the UFC.
There’s a lot to cover here, but let’s start with the extrication of Johnson, who holds company records for title defenses (11), the latest fight stoppage (4:59 of round five) and damn near every record in the flyweight division. The fact that the industry leader appears to be willing to part ways with one of the greatest fighters in MMA history says that those metrics don’t matter to the company’s new owners, and that the UFC of 2018 no longer sees itself as a custodian for the sport, but as just another business.
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