2018 has been one of the memorable years in the modern days of the UFC, from witnessing Daniel Cormier become the second simultaneous double-champion in the organization, to the company signing a jaw dropping TV deal with ESPN.
But just when we thought the monumental news would stop there, then came last week, where one of the most historic moment in MMA happened as both the UFC and ONE Championship came together and organized MMA’s first ever trade, sending former longtime undefeated ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren to the UFC, in exchange for former longtime reigning UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to come to ONE Championship.
At first, when the rumors of the trade were being discussed, many fans questioned why such a bold move was being made.
Turns out the answer was simply the matter of both fighter’s organizations willing to release their respective fighters so they could able to sign with whomever they chose.
The one thing that makes this trade all the more stunning, is that both combatants still had fights left on their current contracts.
For Demetrious Johnson, the trade is breath of fresh air, a change of scenery, and a new beginning in his MMA career.
Overall, if you ask Johnson, he’s just relieved to distance himself from the all the drama and foolishness in the UFC, and be apart of a company that is just focused on the sport side of things in MMA like ONE Championship.
Though he has not spoke negatively of the UFC, he did however express he is glad he does not have to worry about trash talking and all the soap opera drama in ONE Championship like he experienced in his present time with them.
“I was always never the biggest fan of the way people went about promoting their fights over in North America,” Demetrious Johnson said during a media conference call on Sunday evening (transcript via MMAjunkie). “I saw it as a way some athletes used it as a way of bullying, as a way of trying to gain followers. When an athlete says on Twitter ‘why haven’t you signed the contract yet’ to another athlete, for me I see that as a form of bullying. All that’s going to do is stir people to go to that person’s Twitter or social media and say, ‘You’re scared, you don’t want this, you’re chicken.’ When I see professional athletes doing that, that are trying to embody the spirit of a martial artist, it just puts a bad taste in my mouth.”
“I’m very — and I say with high praise — I’m very excited that I don’t have to go through that whole thing and [I can] be OK with myself as a true martial artist. And I felt I’ve always done that in my time here in North America,” the former flyweight champion added. “And now that everybody does that, it’s in everybody’s DNA in Asia. It’s always about respect and promoting the fight the correct way as a true martial artist: We’re going to go in there and test our skills against each other. I’m very much looking forward to that way of promoting fights than it is in North America. That was something that I just didn’t fit in.”
“People told me … there’s nothing worse than when I’m at the gym working out and somebody says, ‘Dude, if you want to sell more tickets and get your name on [a box of] Frosted Flakes, you’ve got to talk more trash.’ That’s not who I am. I’m not a confrontational person. I do mixed martial arts because it’s something I love, and it helps me express my feelings. I’m an artist when I get to compete. Artists don’t run their mouth and attack people or cause a big scene. They focus and put their energy on what they love to do, which is being a martial artist. What I love to do, which is being a martial artist. So I’m vert much looking forward to it.”
How do you see the celebrated former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson fitting on the ONE Championship roster?