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Bellator CEO Appears Ready to Let Welterweight Champ Askren Leave for the UFC


(I would totally wear that shirt. But if somebody asks me who it’s supposed to be, I’d tell them it’s Rob Tyner. / Photo via MMADiehards)

Former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren is undefeated in 12 fights since he began fighting MMA in 2009, has won his last two by TKO, and has beaten many of the best welterweights outside of the UFC. It’s little wonder why fans have been curious how the Bellator welterweight champion would do against the best in the world in the UFC and even champion Georges St. Pierre, if only because of Askren’s superb wrestling.

In the not so distant past, however, Askren has gone above and beyond to be a company man for Bellator and has insisted he had no interest in the UFC. Fine, we don’t like you anyway, you’re boring and not pretty, UFC President Dana pretty much responded.

But last week, when White was asked whether the UFC would speak with Askren, whose contract is up with Bellator, White said that his promotion would indeed talk to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestlye wrestler.

That was trippy enough, but it’s a testament to the fact that the UFC usually seeks out the best fighters in the world, no matter how popular or “exciting” MMA fans or White himself think they are. Bellator, however, seems to be taking a different approach.

While the organization has been snapping up aging and losing former UFC fighters left and right, their CEO now says that they are not even interested in re-signing Askren — a home grown elite fighter of their own.

“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,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney recently told ESPN.

“I don’t think we’re going to make an offer at this point…So I don’t see any reason to make anybody sit out.”

When Bellator actually wants a fighter, they have no problem making them “sit out” during protracted legal battles. This guy know what we’re talking about.

“If the UFC does make an offer, we’ll take a look at it and move on from there,” Rebney said. “We haven’t been proactive yet. I have nothing but good things to say about Ben as a fighter, but we’re all very aware of how he fights and what he does. It’s not for everyone.”

Not for Bellator, we guess. It appears that Askren is not exciting enough to Bellator and the fact that he’s a dominant, elite fighter isn’t enough to interest them at whatever financial cost they imagine he’ll run them.

So, Bellator currently looks poised to let a champion walk away. Not that they’ve exactly been a bastion of title respect and consistency up to this point anyhow.

If Askren joins the UFC, who do you want to see him face first, nation? He’d become the most accomplished amateur wrestler in the welterweight division immediately. Do you those skills will be enough to challenge the likes of Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks?

- Elias Cepeda

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