News broke: Ben Askren… This is how it was reported, Ben Askren to be traded to the UFC, in exchange for Demetrious Johnson to be traded to One Championship by the way, I guess it’s called One Championship now.
I guess it’s not called One FC. All right, fine The One Championship… Look at the word that was used because i don’t know if it’s an accurate word The word is ‘traded’ If you were to compare that to other sports, where it is a unilateral trade or is made between bosses and GM’s and the players have no say in the matter and don’t even need to sign off on it, and it just happens It’s just part of the rules as they are structured ahead of time. I think that’s a better word for ‘traded’. But they have chose to use ‘traded’ in the media so let’s operate under that assumption. In this particular case, the distinction i’m trying to make for you guys is In this particular case, this is not between One FC vs. the UFC, okay? Demetrious, because of the way his contract is lined up, has to sign off on this Ben Askren, because of the way his contract is structured, has to sign off on this. What is being reported is that this trade is going to take place and that all parties – One Championship, the UFC Dana White, Chatri, Demetrious Johnson, Ben Askren, their selective teams and managements are all on board for it. So… Why we aren’t just reported that this is absolutely going to happen, I don’t know. If everybody wants to do it and it’s everybody’s idea and they’ve already come to the table with it, then this is going to happen. But guys, the reason it’s an interesting word of ‘traded’ is this is potentially ground breaking news in MMA. Not because Demetrious is going and not because Ben is coming. This is one small step away from a co-promote. Okay, and I realize that we’re talking about two different things here but if you start talking about trading athletes That’s the word that’s been used, so I’m just gonna operate on that If you start talking about sharing talent You are one small step away from doing a co-promote, which in the history of combat, and I’m talking about Boxing, is the way that it’s always been done.
To get Judo players together is very easy to do, you just have a tournament. To get wrestlers together is very easy to do.
To get Jiujitsu players together To get Taekwondo players together. To get all these different forms of combat athletes to compete against one another is very easy to do. In MMA, it’s something that we have never been able to see With one slight exception; if you guys will remember and I believe this was right around the year 2004 that’s off the top of my head, but I’m close, Dana White not only sent Chuck Liddell to Pride, Dana went with him. Dana actually commentated Chuck’s fight when he took on Rampage Jackson In exchange, Dana White was supposed to get Wanderlei Silva I believe he was going to put Wanderlei with Chuck or he was going to put Wanderlei with Randy Point being is, Pride essentially double-crossed him. They never gave up Wanderlei. So Dana White took one look at this and goes “Oh i see how this is gonna go, you guys use my guy…” “…then you don’t give me the guy in return…” “…we had a handshake deal…” “…I’m not gonna do this again”. You can see where he would get scorn there. But that was a little bit of the history of it.
Now the UFC has been very against co-promotes. We haven’t seen co-promotes in Mixed Martial Arts. I don’t suggest for you that we’re about to see a co-promote in Mixed Martial Arts, but I will tell you that doing this kind of a deal with Demetrious and Ben, One FC to the UFC, is one step away and perhaps has opened the floodgates. And even if you never see a co-promote you really don’t have to do a co-promote if you can just get promoters to trade athletes back and forth. So where this is going to go and where you could speculate in your ability to begin to fantasize… is Coker gonna work something out and give Michael Chandler up so that Michael Chandler goes in there and fights Khabib Nurmagomedov. I mean, you could just see where this starts to go. Is it gonna take a little bit of time and some other star has to come out. Coker’s in the middle of a Heavyweight Grand Prix right now, is he gonna put the Grand Prix Champion against the UFC champion Are any of those things likely to happen. No, maybe not But they’re one hell of a lot more likely to happen today than they were yesterday And I just think that the floodgates have opened now. Listen, this has all sorts of tentacles coming off of it, okay If Demetrius Johnson is going to One FC, that means that you’re giving us not only your best Flyweight–you’re giving up not only your best Flyweight fighter, You’re giving up the best Flyweight fighter the world has ever seen. If you are going to do that, for me to hear that and draw the conclusion that that entire division is then going to be gone is very reasonable. I’m not reporting that, I’m speculating on that, but guys I think that that is something that we have to draw into. Is One FC going to have an American presence?
They just bought up Eddie Alvarez and now they’re looking to buy the greatest Flyweight to ever live. I think that’s a very fair conclusion that either they have a television deal that they’ve yet to announce or they’re very close to a television deal that they’ve yet to announce. Okay, great Where’s the spor—let’s see, not completely the point right now. I don’t know that we need an answer for that. But the other side of it is, and when you do look at the Flyweights and… Demetrious Johnson takes so much criticism, which in many ways can be fair but nobody wants to tell the other side of the coin. My example, Demetrious Johnson is the lowest selling champion in UFC history Well, those are numbers and you simply can’t argue them. If you were to look at pay-per-view buys or you were to look at live-gates or you were to look at television ratings, which we are disclosed… Okay, fine go ahead and make that, but on the other side of that coin make sure you tell the other side of the story which is Demetrius Johnson is the biggest draw in the history of the Flyweight division. So for that division, If you’re going to continue it, and you’re in the numbers business, and you are giving your biggest star away it would come back to my premise – they’re gonna do away with the entire division. I’m also hearing talks okay, that Henry Cejudo is going to go up to take on TJ Dillashaw I think that that would add to the theory if you’re going to take your reigning champion, you’re going to move him up a division, that the entire division is going to go away. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news to that division or let these guys know that their livelihoods, and their careers, and their contracts could be about to change. That is not my attempt here. I actually believe that it will all work out. It’ll be something very positive whether they’re all given the opportunity to simply move up to 135 pounds Whether they’re all given the opportunity to go over to One FC and just the entire division gets absorbed I don’t have the foggiest idea but I don’t propose or suggest to you guys that all of the fly weights of the world in the UFC are about to have their holidays ruined. I don’t think so. If Demetrius is going he’s going to need somebody to fight with. Now let’s look at the other side of this equation, which is Ben Askren coming over. Ben Askren is undefeated. He’s got more wins, I lose track all the time 16 – 0, 18 – 0, 20 – 0,
I don’t even know. Been a champion of every organization he’s been in.
170 pounds, 185 pounds. This guy, that guy, these rules, that kind– it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference, he’s a straight-up competitor. So if you’re gonna bring Ben Askren over–and here’s one thing that’s going to be interesting Is Dana White and Ben Askren have just never got it right and I can’t–I used to know the story behind it I can’t seem to recall it off the top of my head, but for some reason those guys butted heads. What’s going to happen and the interesting part of this is after Dana White works with Ben Askren He’s going to ask himself “Why haven’t I been in the Ben Askren business forever?” Dana White is having guys that want these opportunities and then they get them, and they turn the gun back on him and then they don’t want to defend their championship, then they want to sit down, then they want to renegotiate then they don’t want to go this weight class, and they don’t want to fight this— Ben Askren’s gonna fight with anybody at any weight class at any time that you agree on and he’ll do his stuff and he’ll go to the media and he’ll try to steer his career and do everything smart trying to get the big fights and the fights the he wants and the fights that bring him closer to his goals but at the end of the day, when he gets a phone call from his boss. “This is what I would like you to do”. He will say, “okay” and Dana’s gonna sit back and go “I had no idea… This is the kind of guy I want to work with” This is the kind of guy that Anthony Smith is. This is the kind of guy where Anthony Smith just wants an opportunity to go out there and compete, that’s who Ben Askren is and I’m telling you now whether this is at a 185 pounds if there’s an opportunity of a setting 170 pounds, if it becomes a new catch weight, look, I think that it’s time for a 165 I know that you guys agree with me We’re all on the same page, the media’s on that page, the fans but the company’s not. Promotions–I think that that’s a fair opportunity though I think that Ben Askren is another guy that slides right at 165 pound weight class But I will also share with you, contrary to some belief, Ben Askren could go all the way down to 155 That would be a tremendous lifestyle change. It would be a tremendous discomfort and he would probably need a tremendous fight But when you’re looking at who is going to fight Khabib, we can all be checkers players and we can all say well you got Tony Ferguson And we can all be checkers players and say well, you know, Dustin Poirier sure done a great job And we can all be checkers players – what if Connor McGregor wants to come back into the rematch? But when you’re dealing with Dana You’re dealing with a chess player who is 12 months ahead at all times and in some situations He is up to five. years. ahead and planning. So after you do that Ferguson or Poirier or rematch with Connor then what do you do with Khabib? well you’re smart guy, you bring in somebody like Ben Askren who’s 18 – 0, has a championship in every division matches up really well and you put him in the mix.
That is one option to go with Ben. I don’t know how much I love 185. I know Bennett have no problem with it I’m just I don’t know how much I love 185. I love Ben at 170 Ben has one conflict to every wonderful complement that I just paid about, he will do anything at any time which is Tyron Woodley But that is more than you could ask of anybody. We’re not just talking about teammates here and they were teammates from the time they were teenagers. We’re not just talking about teammates. We are talking about a Coach-Athlete relationship, and that is totally different. No promoter has ever asked, or forced, coach and athlete to go out there and compete. Totally different relationship. So I would like to see Ben Askren in a different weight class I would just like–personally–I would like to see him somewhere else. I think 65 makes a lot of sense. I think you make 170 people go: “That’s too close to one seventy–“. Yeah, I understand that, you make 170, 175 I understand it, you know, 55, 65, 75 and 85–i get it. That’s how you solve that problem. Ben Askren would like to be in there with George St. Pierre. Well, welcome to the club I’m sure plenty of guys would.
George is a little bit different animal It takes a little bit more to get George out of the woodwork It takes a championship or it takes some type of ego being damaged or it takes some kind of esteem to be gained Until George can see that, until that story gets told, until people light a fire in it It’s up to you guys If you guys want to see that fight you let George know all of a sudden you’re gonna see that fight But if you don’t let him know, you’re not gonna see it Which then does bring you to 155 pounds, and if you wanted to bring in a Ben Askren And you want to talk about somebody that can cut the line, somebody that would be very interesting It’s not really cutting the line when a guy comes at 18 – 0, with 2 different World Championships in two different weight classes and two different Continents from two different organizations.
I don’t think that it’s really cutting the line. I don’t think you guys would either, but if you want to bring in somebody like that, I will concede that I do not believe the matchmaker would go straight to that. I think you do have the Tony Ferguson I think that makes a lot of sense. I certainly wouldn’t turn my back on Poirier or anybody else in that division But what do you do after that? What do you do for guys don’t want to stay active and want to stay busy, and it starts to get pretty interesting pretty fast Particularly when you’re dealing with a guy like Khabib Khabib beats to his own drum as well. He’s a prizefighter. That’s least concerned about the prize and more interested in the fighting Khabib’s not going to have a problem with Ben Askren Khabib’s not gonna have a problem with anybody’s name that comes out of that Well, that’s compelling and that’s refreshing and that’s something that we all want to get behind and we want to see So is Ben Askren going to walk right into a Khabib situation? Is he gonna walk right into a type contender and then go into a Khabib situation? Do I have the wrong weight class completely and finally we can bring in 165 pounds. I don’t totally know But all of these things are speculative and all of these things need to be on the table And for anybody that read the Demetrious’ is coming over and Demetrious’ is going over and Ben Askren is coming over You’ve got to see the writing on the walls at the bigger picture and I’m telling you- This news in this day, like a fine wine over time, could look better and better.
And I don’t think it’s being reported correctly to the magnitude that this could be potentially, for the sport of MMA, for the way it’s viewed, for the business side of MMA This could be a game-changing moment.