(Photo by Mags Icasiano/Rappler)
By Brian J. D’Souza
Five under-the-radar stories you may have missed last week…
BEN ASKREN WINS…NOW WHAT?
Exiled from Bellator, refused a contract with the UFC, and having rejected an offer from the World Series of Fighting, undefeated welterweight and 2008 Olympian Ben Askren chose to seek his fortunes in Singapore-based ONE FC.
Last Friday, Askren improved his record to 13-0 in his promotional debut against Bakhtiyar Abbasov (now 11-3), winning in the first round via arm-triangle choke. This marks the third opponent in a row that Askren has finished. Where does this leave the American wrestler?
Askren spoke to CagePotato.com earlier this year and said that he believed he was the best welterweight in the world, with a caveat: “I definitely agree that [Johny Hendricks] should be ranked number one because I haven’t had the ability to prove I’m number one.”
Askren pointed to bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes and lightweight Mike Chandler as top fighters outside the UFC who could give a good challenge to the UFC’s champions at their respective divisions, but he was adamant that the bulk of the sport’s top talent lies within the UFC.
Unfortunately for Askren, there is no reason why the UFC—or any other MMA promotion—has to sign top contenders like himself. Combat sports have always been a business, with the promoter’s mandate being to maximize revenue.
Unlike the organizational titles in place in MMA, there are world titles sanctioned by third parties in boxing. This means that contenders can climb the ladder with each win against ranked opposition, earning leverage towards a title shot. The system is wide-open to corruption—managers and promoters often pay cold hard cash to advance their boxers in the rankings, evidenced by the 1999 IBF rankings scandal. However, with the right backers, fighters can have more career traction in boxing than currently exists in MMA.