Ben Askren (14-0), former Bellator welterweight champion and current One FC welterweight champion, shared his thoughts about the UFC and it’s management with “The MMA Hour”. And though the UFC President had expressed some interest in signing Askren, should he “keep winning”, the new One FC welterweight champion was pretty clear in just how much appetite he has for the UFC and its practices.
“I have a hard time with how Dana White treats people,” Askren said.
“It’s kind of like all of us had that time in high school when we were bullied by the cool group of kids,” Askren explains. “Then we did something, then the cool group said ‘oh my god, can you be part of our group?’ Then some of us who didn’t have low self esteem said ‘well, you didn’t want me the first time, I’m alright.’ Then some other people, they run, ‘the cool kids want to hang out with me? Yes, please.’ I think it’s kind of one of those things.”
Askren emphasized that he’s in no hurry to compete under the Zuffa banner and in his most recent conquest at One FC: Reign of Champions over the weekend Ben took out Nobutatsu Suzuki in just under 90 seconds.
Askren also largely disagrees with the way Dana White conducts himself.
“Even last weekend, Barao, did he make a misake? Yeah, he blew it,” said Askren. “He freakin’ blew it, big time. He probably shouldn’t be at 135 pounds. But the way Dana just threw him under the bus like he was a piece of garbage. Where was some human decency there? I think we’ve seen it time after time with Dana. And so I think at the end of the day he cares about his bottom line a lot and he doesn’t care enough about the athletes.”
But Askren didn’t stop there. Almost as if he was taking a page out of another former Olympian turned undefeated MMA superstar’s play book (Ronda “ahem” Rousey, cough…) he goes on to call it the way he sees it.
“Him saying I’m not good enough for the UFC? I’ve got more skills in my pinky finger than half the damn guys in the UFC,” Askren exclaimed. “Have you seen some of these guys fighting lately? It’s ridiculous. Having the letters UFC behind my name is not the be-all, end-all it is for someone. Some people think once they get into the UFC, that’s it. I think with having more large organizations in the world, it’s going to be great for the fighters, because right now the fighters are being underpaid greatly, in my opinion, and I was one who was able to step outside that box and go find a great paycheck somewhere else.”
Apparently, when you’re an undefeated, Olympic level, athlete you get a little more room to express yourself. But along with success comes more competition and no doubt, his haters are his competition. Much as the UFC’s crown jewel, Ronda Rousey, might aggravate some fans with her over abundant ego, she more than makes up for it by putting words into motion while in the cage.
Ben Askren’s recent One FC victory may be just one more in a long list of accomplishments for the talented welterweight but it comes at a prudent time of change in the industry. His perspective, if considered by the promotions and their management, could lay the foundation for conversations that might help MMA evolve into a truly mainstream sport.