Ben Askren went from reigning as the Bellator welterweight champion of the world to unwanted and unemployed.
But now Askren is speaking out and holding the man behind the biggest MMA organization in the world accountable for not signing him.
“In all honesty, I think if you put a 15-man tournament together, I think I could be the best fighter in the world right now,” Askren said. “And now, I’m not going to get a chance to prove that because one bald-headed fat man chooses not to let me in.”
Askren made the comments to MMA Junkie. Askren, 12-0, is one of the most talented fighters in the world not fighting for the UFC. After the UFC passed on him, Askren signed with OneFC.
In a surprising twist, the Bellator declined to re-sign the champion when his contract expired last summer. At one point, Askren had thought the UFC was interested in him.
Askren said he flew to the UFC’s Las Vegas headquarters for a meeting, but then UFC officials told him they were not interested.
“They essentially told my manager, ‘We’re going to get something done,’ and six hours later, when I’m not in the meeting and not in the UFC office, I get a call saying, ‘It’s not going to happen,’” Askren told MMA Junkie.
Askren, a member of the 2008 Olympic team, may be caught in the middle of a promotional war between Bellator and the UFC. The UFC may have opted to not push for Askren because the company wanted to send a message to Bellator. The last time the UFC made a big push for a Bellator fighter, Eddie Alvarez, Bellator counter-offered. Bellator claimed that its offer was equal to the UFC’s, forcing Alvarez to threaten to sue to be able to sign with the UFC. In the end, Alvarez agreed to a deal with Bellator and returned to the organization.
With Georges St-Pierre on the shelf for now, it would appear that the UFC would be in interested in Askren, but so far Askren has been persona non grata with the company.