Ben Askren (14-0) showed wannabe welterweight champs all over the world just how it’s done as he demolished his opponent, Nobutatsu Suzuki (11-2-2) within the first 2 minutes of the first round at One FC this past weekend. The, now current, One FC Welterweight Champion can proudly say “I told you so” to just about anyone who doubted his worth as a fighter. (Ahem, Bjorn Rebney, are you reading this now?)
In what could be one of the most ridiculous faux pas in recent MMA history, former Bellator C.E.O., Bjorn Rebney released Askren from the promotion without so much as an attempt at an extension or revised offer. Puzzled press and fans alike were only given this explanation, “I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I had a number of discussions with Ben and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions. We’ve relinquished any right to match here and Ben can sign with whoever he chooses to sign with. Ben’s been at Bellator since the start of his career, I respect him and what he’s accomplished and wish him the best wherever he goes.”
Subsequent to that event more suppositions were made about Askren’s perceived value and the reality of his value to the organization as a fighter that can draw crowds. Fortunately for Askren, the gods of talent are often kind to those who have stamina for a fight. If anything, he’s begun to show others that he can muscle is way into a victory in almost any organization.
Never one to miss an opportunity to flip flop on an opinion, even the UFC’s president, Dana White was impressed enough to say,
“Yeah, if [Ben] keeps winning, he can get a shot over here.”
But there’s little reason to expect Askren, who’s known for his tenacity as a fighter and a negotiator, to ever go cowtow to the almighty UFC for a shot at their title. Not to mention the generally accepted view that Dana White was instrumental in growing the tensions between the former Bellator welterweight title holder and his former employer. Those of you who’ve followed the saga of his career will remember how less than a year ago Dana White and Bjorn Rebney were routinely trading public blows in the media to try and prove that one or the other organization had the best fighters in the world.
In October of 2013, Rebney told ESPN.com, “If you want to say the best fighters in the world fight in your organization and one becomes available and you have the unfettered right to talk to him, pick up the phone and call him”
But once news hit of Askren’s “free agent” status, Dana White responded with all the candor and professionalism he’s famous for by giving this statement at a UFC 167 press conference, “This doesn’t change anything,” White said. “I have no interest. I’m sure [WSOF] will pick him up. He’s [Bellator’s] champion and they don’t want him. What does that say? What does that mean? I don’t even care about those guys whatsoever. I feel sorry for the kids that fight there. I truly feel sorry for the kids that have to be stuck in that sh**hole. And the fact you would just give away a guy who has gone undefeated for you just shows the kind of people you are. It just shows what kind of business you do.”
Indeed it does Mr. White. Oh and by the way, have you met the Kettle across the street? It does appear you have the same favorite color.
But now that Rebney’s gone and Scott Coker is in charge, there’s a good chance that he could wind up back on Spike TV fighting for Bellator. While some might say, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.” This could be one chance to put the “genie back in the bottle”. Coker has already shown himself to be fair, flexible and understanding by not only releasing Eddie Alvarez but also wishing him well in his journey through the UFC’s ranks. Bringing back Ben Askren would undoubtably make another great example of just how committed the new Bellator is to it’s talent by actively correcting obvious mistakes made by prior management.
Meanwhile, the new Champ can and should kick back and enjoy his win a little while longer. Of course, the victory must me this much sweeter knowing what went into it. Congrats to Askren for showing us all just how it’s done!