Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney recently spoke about current Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (12-0, pictured left) and how he doesn’t feel they will make him a new offer at this point.
Askren, a 2008 U.S. Olympian in Wrestling, has notched up nine-successive victories in the Bellator welterweight division. After winning the season 2 welterweight tournament, Askren went on to claim the Bellator 170lb title in October, 2010, by defeating Lyman Good ((15-3) via unanimous decision at Bellator 33. A title he has since gone on to successfully defend four times.
Rebney 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.”
UFC President Dana White, recently said that they would be interested in signing Ben Askren, something Bjorn seems to be aware of and is happy to try to speed up the process, stating,
“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,”
It’s certainly surprising to most that Bellator would be willing to let one of their top draws in the company make the move to a rival promotion, at least without attempting to re-sign the twenty-nine year old Askren to a new deal. However, Rebney alluded to the style of Ben Askren, admitting that it’s not for everyone, which may have been something that influenced his decision.
“If the UFC does make an offer, we’ll take a look at it and move on from there. 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.”
Bjorn added that the wrestling game of the current 170lb Bellator roster is not up to par with the ability of Askren, and that’s something that makes for some lop-sided fights. This was evident in his last outing at Bellator 97, where Askren repeatedly took Andrey Koreshkov (13-1) to the mat, landing 245 unanswered strikes in the process, on his way to recording a fourth-round TKO victory.
“Until the wrestling game evolves, they’re going to have big problems with a guy like Ben Askren. He does what he does, takes them out of their environment, and that makes for incredibly lopsided fights.”
UFC President Dana White, although interested in signing Askren, doesn’t feel that the Milwaukee, Wisconsin based fighter will find it quite as easy to dominate the UFC roster with his wrestling ability, saying recently,
“You can do that [Wrestling dominance] in Bellator, you know what I mean? It’s going to be tougher to do that here.”
Although Askren has not commented on negotiations with the UFC, he admitted there was “No chance” of him appearing on Bellator’s upcoming PPV. Judging by his recent tweet, he appears to have his heart set on a future matchup with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre (24-2), suggesting that should an injury occur to number one contender, Johny Hendricks (15-1), he is more than ready to step in.
— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) August 21, 2013
We’ll look to bring you more news as the story develops.