In hindsight, it's clear that ONE Championship got the better end of the deal in the Demetrious Johnson for Ben Askren trade with the UFC.
Detractors have since slammed the UFC for letting go of 'Mighty Mouse' – the consensus greatest flyweight of all time – in exchange for Askren, who no longer competes. However, ONE Championship Vice President Rich Franklin doesn't think it's fair to criticize the UFC over the move.
Check out the tweet below:
The way Franklin sees it, the UFC was unable to cash in on Johnson's appeal due to their demographic. He furthered that Johnson wasn't very popular in the UFC because American fight fans aren't as invested in smaller fighters:
"I think it's one of the greatest trades ever, especially for ONE Championship... Because I don't believe that the UFC ever got the mileage out of 'DJ' [Demetrious Johnson] that they could have, or ever should have. And it's not the UFC's fault as much as the American fans – they really don't appreciate the smaller fighters the way that they did."
Franklin added that Johnson found the perfect audience in Asia, where fight fans are more appreciative of movement and technique. The former UFC middleweight champ continued:
"I mean the heavyweights are king of the jungle in the western side of the world. But over here, the smaller fighters – the movement, the activity level, the pressure that's in the matches – are more widely respected on this side of the planet."
Watch Rich Franklin's interview with The Schmo below:
Rich Franklin predicts Demetrious Johnson's return to American soil
His theory aside, Rich Franklin believes that Demetrious Johnson still has a relatively huge fanbase in the United States.
Franklin revealed that ONE's American expansion through Prime Video was a success thanks in large part to 'Mighty Mouse':
"But I'll say this, though, we've seen what kind of fanbase 'DJ' actually does have in the United States for that matter. Because after ONE on Prime Video 1, that event went well beyond what Amazon thought the event was going to perform at. Like we hit markers that were beyond whatever they thought we were going to achieve."
With that in mind, the 47-year-old executive believes it's only a matter of time before ONE stages an event in the US. He offered that the best matchup to build it on is a trilogy bout between Johnson and Adriano Moraes.