The greatest flyweight of all time has found a new home. Former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson has signed with ONE Championship, while undefeated welterweight Ben Askren is expected to move in the opposite direction.
ONE Championship Founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced Johnson’s signing in a facebook post on Sunday:
"Please join me in welcoming the No. 1 pound-for-pound king, Demetrious Johnson, to ONE Championship! He is the most dominant mixed martial arts world champion in history, and holds the record for the most number of world title defenses (with 11) in the UFC."
Johnson (27-3) made a record 11 consecutive defenses of his UFC flyweight title before losing to Henry Cejudo by split decision in his most recent bout. He also fought for the UFC bantamweight title in 2011, dropping a decision to Dominick Cruz.
It remains to be seen which division Johnson will compete in with ONE Championship, who have introduced a policy that prevents fighters from cutting weight through dehydration. The promotion’s flyweight title has been changing hands regularly in recent years and is currently the property of Geje Eustaquio.
Bibiano Fernandes, who trains with Johnson at Matt Hume’s AMC in Seattle, is the reigning bantamweight champion. Whether the two would agree to fight each other remains to be seen, but the Brazilian has a title defense coming up against Kevin Belingon later this month.
Johnson is the second major signing to be announced this month. ONE Championship has also secured the signature of former UFC and Bellator welterweight champion Eddie Alvarez. There is a possibility that he and Johnson could both debut on the promotion’s inaugural Tokyo card in March.