Welterweight Ben Askren is in a unique position as a free agent who also happens to be a Bellator champion with an unbeaten record and a slew of one-sided efforts under his belt. While such status would seemingly secure the 29-year old a bright financial future, Askren’s ability to take opponents down and grind them out hasn’t exactly endeared the former Olympian to fans or UFC President Dana White. In fact, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has even gone so far as to let Askren explore other offers before attempting to re-sign him, further indicating his services are not necessarily in high demand despite his mastery of mat-based technique.
Askren is pretty sure he knows why too. In an interview with MMAJunkie, Askren admitted Bellator’s willingness to end an exclusive negotiation period could be a way to attempting to hurt his bargaining power, but he thinks it has more to do with the way he’s dominated his competition in the cage.
“Let’s face it – they’ve got these guys they’re trying to bring up, trying to make into stars, and then I outstrike them 248-3 and make them look like they’re a child. It’s pretty tough to make them a star after that,” stated Askren. “I got in MMA for one reason: to see if I could be the best in the world. Actually, he’s doing me a favor if he lets me go to the UFC and test myself. I mean, I wouldn’t be upset that I’m getting paid a bunch of money to beat up guys who aren’t as good as me, but I would like those challenges if it’s possible.”
“I don’t know that there are any challenges left in Bellator,” he concluded. “So yeah, I think the only challenges for me are in the UFC.”
“Funky” is 12-0 thus far in his career including six stoppages. Among his notable wins are those over Karl Amoussou, Douglas Lima, and Lyman Good.