Rich Franklin Believes DJ-Askren Trade Was A Win-Win For ONE And UFC

One year had passed since the ground-breaking trade between two biggest mixed martial arts promotions in the world, ONE Championship and the UFC, in which two of their most prized athletes were traded with one another, Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson. 

The Las Vegas-based company received the then undefeated welterweight Askren, while the Singapore-based promotion was handed the former UFC flyweight champion, Johnson. 

Since the trade, the two athletes have competed in three matches respectively, but have experienced very different fortunes.

Askren won his debut bout in controversial fashion against Robbie Lawler at UFC 235. He then he suffered a devastating five second knockout to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239. And earlier this month, was submitted by Demian Maia in the headliner at UFC Singapore, which prompted him to contemplate retiring from the sport

Meanwhile, Demetrious Johnson was pitted in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, where he scored three straight wins over Yuya Wakamatsu (via submission), Tatsumitsu Wada (via unanimous decision) and Danny Kingad (via unanimous decision). In doing so, ‘DJ’ emerged as the tournament champion and earned his title shot, against the title holder Adriano Moraes. Expected to go down in early 2020. 

With the contrasting outcomes from the two athletes, a lot of fans have commented that the trade was lopsided and beneficial only for ONE Championship.

However, ONE Vice President and former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin, begged to disagree. As he explained to MMA Junkie.

“It was a pretty straight forward trade from the business side. Just kind of flip-flopped from one organization to the next, and so nothing tricky about it,” commenced Franklin. 

“And I’ll say this: Askren goes to the UFC, he’s competing against some of the top level guys obviously, with Masvidal and what not, and then DJ comes over to ONE Championship and is competing against some of the top guys. People will make a comment like that based on athlete’s performance, but the reality, what you have to ask yourself: What kind of return on investment did the organization get on the trade?” he added. 

The former UFC 185lbs title-holder pointed out the leverage that Johnson and Askren provided when they arrived at their new organization. 

“DJ, for us, who maybe didn’t get the respect that he deserved in another organization, is going to do really well over here in ONE Championship. There are many fans on this side of the planet that gravitate towards the smaller athletes, and he puts on exciting matches. There’s no doubt about that, so for us, regardless if he’s winning or losing, that’s not as important as he’s a big draw. And likewise for Ben Askren moving to the UFC. Regardless of whether he’s winning or losing, he’s a big draw because people are going to be curious.”

Franklin further detailed how ‘Funky’ continuously adds value to not only his own name but for the entirety of the UFC. 

“Even though he lost his last match to Demian Maia, when they find him for another match, people are still going to be interested in seeing how he performs. To see if, ‘Oh, maybe he had a rough start out of the gates or whatever,’ so they’re still getting a return on investment in that respect, and I think it was probably smart for both organizations because the UFC wasn’t getting a return on investment in Demetrious,” Franklin concluded. 

Do you think both ONE Championship and the UFC have done well in the Ben Askren – Demetrious Johnson trade?


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