Ben Askren wasn’t hurt to learn that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney wasn’t very interested in fighting to keep the welterweight champ. In fact, he says Rebney would be doing him a favor by letting him go to the UFC as soon as possible.
Earlier this week, the news dropped that Rebney was unlikely to tender an offer to Askren, despite the fact that he’s been their dominant welterweight for over three years.
“I don’t think we’re going to make an offer at this point,” he told ESPN. “So I don’t see any reason to make anybody sit out. If Ben’s going to go to the UFC, we should speed up that process so he can go fight. I’d love to see Ben versus GSP.”
That’s a strange attitude to take with one of the few bona fide stars your promotion has, and may be the result of some behind the scenes talks that the fans aren’t privy to. In any case though, Askren seems more than happy to leave Bellator for the UFC, and is glad that his old promotion is not holding him back.
“I’m happy, more than anything, that they’re [waiving] the exclusive [negotiating] period, so now I don’t have to sit out 90 days before anything even starts to happen,” Askren said in an interview with MMAjunkie.com. “That’s definitely a positive thing.”
Askren also responded to those saying that he was cut from the organization due to his “smothering” wrestling style, which often doesn’t make for very exciting fights. He doesn’t see it that way. Instead, he feels that Bellator has become frustrated by their inability to bring anyone up to compete on Askren’s level.
“Because 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,” Askren said. “It’s pretty tough to make them a star after that.”
He also speculated that it’s possible that Rebney is just being sneaky, and wants the UFC to make a low-ball offer that Bellator can match.
“Honestly, I think it could be a ploy on their part to get the UFC to make a lower offer, so when they go to match it’s not as hard,” he said.
In any case though, all Askren wants to do is fight to be the best in the world, and if he can’t do that in Bellator, then the UFC is where he needs to go.
“I’m fairly indifferent to what [Rebney] said,” Askren said. “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, so yeah, I think the only challenges for me are in the UFC,” he concluded, adding that he thinks there is “over 50 percent” chance that he’ll be changing promotions.
Ben Askren is currently 12-0, and ranks among the top ten welterweights in the world according to many sources.