Some Are Realistic, Some are Wishful… Here Are Some Trades the UFC Could Make With the Other Major MMA Promotions…

Out of nowhere a whole new world of opportunity has opened for MMA fighters and promotions around the world. The UFC and ONE have allegedly agreed in principle a deal to cancel the contracts of their respective former champions Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren and trade fighters, in a ground-breaking deal for the sport.

This is the first time that two former champions have been swapped between leading MMA promotions and could be a turning point in the sport. It’s great for the fighters because it can mean more money and the ability to enhance their profiles, while it allows promotions to get fighters who are a better fit for what they want.

With this in mind, let’s think about what the future could hold. Bellator’s CEO Scott Coker has already signalled he’s interested in this new path. Let’s take a look at some potential swaps between the UFC and the other major promotions that would make sense for all involved. Don’t take it too seriously, we’re only having a bit of fun.

Michael ‘Venom’ Page. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn, USA TODAY Sports.

The Diaz Brothers for Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Aaron Pico

Before you start calling us idiots for writing this, think about it. The Diaz brothers are massive names in the sport and they’re definitely big draws – on their day. But those days are few and far between. Nate hasn’t fought since his rematch with Conor McGregor two years ago, while you have to go back to 2015 for Nick’s last fight, a no-contest against Anderson Silva. Unless that trilogy is booked, Nate doesn’t have much left to offer right now.

Both men have had a tense relationship with the UFC bosses of late and maybe it’s best for all involved to cut ties. We have no idea how high Michael ‘Venom’ Page’s ceiling is, but he’s got stardust and would be a great addition to the lightweight division. Meanwhile, Aaron Pico is one of the most exciting prospects in the sport and there’s no doubt joining the UFC would boost his profile. It would be a massive short-term boost for Bellator because they’d get some star power and an injection of exciting long-term potential into the UFC’s roster.

Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Dos Anjos for Christian Lee

Another former UFC champion that ONE might be interested in, this is a deal that could make a lot of sense for both men and promotions. Dos Anjos is a great fighter but he’s realistically never going to get another shot at a title in the UFC. He’d definitely bring even more gravitas to ONE, who lack depth in their welterweight division without Ben Askren.

Meanwhile, the UFC could simultaneously boost its Asian profile by signing the younger brother of ONE’s atomweight champion Angela Lee. Christian is only 21 but has dropped two title fight losses to reigning featherweight champion Martin Nguyen. Born in Singapore, but raised in Hawaii, he regularly trains with the likes of Max Holloway. Right now all he can do is go sideways at ONE, so a move to the UFC would be in his favour.

Ilima-Lei MacFarlane and her coach. Mandatory Credit: Instagram.

Cris Cyborg for Ilina-Lei MacFarlane

As active champions, we know this isn’t going to happen – but it’s another massive deal that would definitely suit both the UFC and Bellator. Cris Cyborg is the most fearsome female fighter in the world today but the UFC is just not ready right now for her. A natural featherweight, she’s basically fought a bunch of jumped-up bantamweights since joining the promotion. After the Amanda Nunes match-up who is left for her? Cyborg has flirted with Bellator in the past, and if she wants to compete they’ve actually got a functioning division for her.

Meanwhile, Ilina-Lei MacFarlane has established herself as a genuine talent. Bellator’s strawweight champion has proven drawing power and would be an excellent addition to what has become the UFC’s strongest women’s division. She’s got the personality and the looks to become a star on a bigger stage than Bellator can offer her right now. There is clearly something in the Hawaiian water…

Alistair Overeem for Tenshin Nasukawa

Finally, this one is UFC to RIZIN. Overeem has had an absolutely tremendous career with the UFC, but he’s been ferociously knocked out in his last couple of fights by Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes. A big-money move to Japan to fight the likes of Mirko Cro-Cop would let him finish his career the way he started it with PRIDE.

Meanwhile, Tenshin is one of the most exciting kickboxers on the planet. He’s yet to make his professional MMA debut, but if the UFC carefully managed him, the way they are grooming Greg Hardy, he could be that elusive Japanese superstar they’ve been searching for. If you don’t think this is a good deal, just watch this footage of him fighting Kenji Horiguchi under kickboxing rules, in honour of Kid Yamamoto.

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