- Former UFC champions Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez have their first ONE assignments, as the two will compete in grand prix tournaments beginning in 2019. Both recently signed with the Asia-based promotion, with Johnson being involved in the Ben Askren deal and Alvarez signing as a free agent.
Johnson, the longest reigning UFC champion in promotional history in terms of successful title defenses, will compete at flyweight.
"I spent seven years in North America fighting the best in the world," Johnson said. "I've never traveled to Asia to fight the best. I think now is the perfect time to do it. Now that they just announced a World Grand Prix for the flyweight division, it's has always been a dream of mine to actually compete in Asia in a World Grand Prix. The biggest thing that you can expect from me for coming over here to compete in Asia is that I'll do my best. I am taking no shortcuts."
Alvarez, a former UFC and Bellator champion, lost the lightweight title to Conor McGregor. He could become the first fighter to win gold in the UFC, Bellator and ONE Championship.
"It was in Asia where I made a name for myself and started my career. Everything has come full circle for me," Alvarez said. "I can't say how excited and grateful I am to be part of the ONE Championship family. This is where true martial arts lives. I've been away from Asia so long. It's good to be back. I feel like I found my way again with ONE Championship. I can respect my opponents, and I can go in and fight like a man. I know my lifelong martial arts journey will be truly appreciated here."
- Former UFC light heavyweight title contender Anthony Johnson announced his decision to retire from MMA. However, with rumors of a potential return swirling, "Rumble" confirmed that he would fight again - but only at heavyweight.
"Yes it's true that I'll come back to MMA at heavyweight," Johnson posted on Instagram. "But only if Jon (Jones) fights (Daniel Cormier) for the title! It's a personal goal of mine to fight the very best of the best before i truly stop fighting. Jon was always my motivation once I went to 205. Heavyweight would be insane if the 3 of us were at it again."
Johnson and Jones never fought, but Johnson did drop two bouts to Cormier for the light heavyweight title.
- Paige VanZant will take part in the debut of the deal between the UFC and ESPN, meeting Rachel Ostovich-Berdon on January 19 from the Barclays Center in New Jersey. Currently, VanZant is in Portugal with her husband.