Are The UFC And Ben Askren Coming Closer To A Deal?
By Dan McConnell
Former Bellator and ONE Championship Welterweight Champion Ben Askren has been a wanted man on the UFC’s radar for a number of years. However the Canadian and UFC President Dana White have had their noted issues, the UFC is the next step in the undefeated champions’ career. Following his retirement Askren would be known as one of the best undefeated champions in MMA never to sign for the UFC.
Askren who holds a solid undefeated 18-0 record announced his retirement on November 2017. On The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Askren has made it well-known that he would come out of retirement for a huge contest against a huge named opponent to prove his claim as one of the best fighters in the world.
Askren is still contracted to fight under the ONE brand despite his retirement. In May ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong, said that he was interested in having Askren do a cross-promotional champion v champion fight with another promotion. Bellator Welterweight champion Rory MacDonald and the UFC’s former Welterweight and Middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre were mentioned as possible opponents but no further movement has been made.
Speaking on the UFC’s Unfiltered podcast this week with Matt Serra, it has seemed Dana White is open to the possibility to sit down and meet with Askren despite their past altercations but told him there would be no deal to he fulfilled his remaining fights on his contract at ONE. Bellator President Scott Coker has said in the past that he wouldn’t be interested in bringing the former Bellator Welterweight champion in on a one fight deal while they build their 170-pound talent with the announced Welterweight Grand Prix.
The former world champion campaigned for some time for a fight with Georges St-Pierre but this didn’t look possible to flourish. A fight with Bellator Welterweight champion Rory MacDonald is unlikely as he is tied up in a super-fight with Bellator Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi, as well as a competitor in the Grand Prix.
The UFC’s Welterweight division is stacked right now with Champion Tyron Woodley, Darren Till, Colby Covington, Stephen Thompson, Rafael Dos Anjos, Robbie Lawler, Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards. Askren can only be a positive addition to this hotly-competitive division.
On December 8th UFC231 is in Toronto and this PPV will need a huge main event which is what the Canadian fans deserve. If Dana and ONE can come to some sort of agreement, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see his name of the fight card. Imagine an Askren v GSP main event at UFC231, for a Welterweight title shot. Former Champion v former Champion. Canadian v Canadian. Who wouldn’t want to see this?