Demetrious Johnson isn’t attempting to spark a war with the UFC after leaving his former employers to join the roster at ONE Championship.
Over the weekend, Johnson was officially ‘traded’ to ONE Championship in exchange for former welterweight champion Ben Askren, who will now call the UFC home.
Johnson had engaged in a bitter war of words with UFC president Dana White over the past year following a proposed fight against T.J. Dillashaw that never came together.
Despite that strenuous relationship, Johnson insisted when speaking to reporters on Sunday night that there was no bad blood with the UFC and he left the organization on good terms to join ONE Championship.
“I leave the UFC with no regrets, on good terms,” Johnson said on Sunday. “I believe I accomplished everything I could there. I defended the belt 11 times. I won every single way you can possibly think of — knockout, submission that nobody has ever seen before — I’ve done everything I can over there.
“I think me coming to ONE Championship, there’s a lot of new goals, a lot fresh things, a lot of fresh matchups. This is different. The guys in Asia have been doing it since they were three or four years old, they bring a different style of mixed martial arts to the table.”
Johnson says he suggested the idea of the trade to his representatives at First Round Management just after his loss to Henry Cejudo in August.
Johnson already had ties to ONE Championship because his head coach Matt Hume is an executive at the Asian based mixed martial arts promotion. Once he asked his management team about making the deal happen, they began orchestrating the trade that would become the first of its kind in the industry.
“Working with First Round Management and Malki [Kawa] after my last fight, I was like ‘you know what you think this is something that could be possible?’ and he said ‘anything’s possible’ and so Malki was able to get it done,” Johnson said. “Here we are now and I’m glad everything fell into the right place.
“Now I’m a ONE athlete and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”
As of now there’s no exact timeline for Johnson’s debut with ONE Championship but the former flyweight king says he’s currently targeting January or February 2019 for his first appearance in the promotion.
What do you think about the deal to send Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship? Sound off in the comments and let us know!