You gotta love the Bellator business model, Nation. Two aging, injury-prone UFC stars who are 3-7 in their past 10 combined? BUILD A PPV AROUND THEM, DAMMIT. A longstanding (albeit incredibly boring) champion who has dominated every last opponent placed before him? LET HIM SPREAD HIS WINGS AND FLY, DAMMIT.
And so goes the Bellator career of welterweight champion Ben Askren, who was released into the murky waters of unrestricted free agency earlier today. A press release sent out this morning has the details:
Ben Askren is now an unrestricted free agent after Bellator released the undefeated welterweight. The Bellator Welterweight World Title will be vacant until Douglas Lima faces the winner of the Season 9 Welterweight Tournament later this winter when the new Bellator Welterweight Champion will be crowned.
“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” (Ed note: BUUUUUURRRRNNNN?!) 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.”
In all seriousness, it’s not *that* difficult to follow Bjorn’s line of logic here. For the past three years, Bellator’s welterweight division has been stuck in a state of purgatory, so to speak, hopelessly cycling between fighters that stood no chance of defeating their increasingly hard-to-watch champion. Bjorn & Co. have been hinting at Askren’s possible release for a little while now, and while we originally thought it was just an attempt to draw the UFC into a bidding war, it seems that, for once, Bellator has mutually ended a relationship with one of its fighters.
We will keep you updated as to any offers the UFC makes Askren (if they make him an offer, that is) as the information becomes available.