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08th Aug 2018

Dana White finally entertaining idea of signing arguably the greatest fighter to never fight in the UFC

Long overdue

Ben Kiely

We don’t want to live in a world where Ben Askren could be the best fighter to never compete in the UFC

It would be an absolute travesty if Ben Askren never fights in the UFC.

When he was in his athletic prime, the great 170 lbers fought for the world’s biggest MMA promotion. However, Askren hasn’t graced the Octagon once. His wrestling credentials and his MMA record cannot be dismissed, but the level of competition he has beaten means there has always been uncertainty over where he ranks among the world’s elite.

‘Funky’ is a two-time NCAA Divison 1 wrestling champion and is undefeated in mixed martial arts. He holds a pristine professional record of 18-0-1 NC. As Bellator welterweight champion, he beat Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov. Both men went on to hold the strap. They only held the belt after Askren left the promotion to sign for ONE.

Ben Askren

The obstacles

After knocking out legendary fighter Shinya Aoki in 57 seconds in November 2017, Askren announced that he was semi-retired from MMA. Later he admitted he would return if he received a big enough fight offer. However, being still under contract at ONE meant his options were limited.

In May ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong told Abhinav Kini of International Business Time that he was interested in having ‘Funky’ do a cross-promotional, champion vs. champion fight. Current Bellator champion Rory MacDonald and Georges St-Pierre were mentioned as possible opponents.

Bellator president Scott Coker has stated that he wouldn’t be interested in signing Askren on a one-fight deal. Also, UFC president made it clear that his promotion had zero interest in signing Askren back in 2014. He said the following during an episode of The Download With Dana White:

“The thing is with Ben Askren is that Ben Askren doesn’t really want to fight here, in my opinion. People that are close to him say the same thing. The guy is making a ton of money to fight nobodies, but when you talk and you say a lot of things it keeps your name out there. Trust me when I tell you this, Ben Askren does not want to fight in the UFC. Believe me when I tell you that.”

Ben Asken

Changing his tune

On a recent episode of the UFC Unfiltered podcast, White revealed he had a recent conversation about Askren. It appears as though ‘Funky’ has got the itch. That pesky ONE contract is currently preventing it from being scratched.

“Ben Askren hit me up a few months ago and said, ‘What are the odds that we could talk about getting me into the UFC?’ And I said, ‘We can absolutely talk about it.’ I said, ‘You need to send me a letter, before I even talk to you or meet with you or do anything, I need a letter saying you’re a free agent or whatever.'”

“He’s not a free agent. He’s under contract with ONE FC and he’s going to have to fulfill his contract with them before I would even meet with him or talk to him.”

UFC 231 in Toronto is in dire need of a headline act. GSP wants to return on that card and Askren would have absolutely no problem playing the role of the villain.

For the love of all that is good and violent, please, please, PLEASE make it happen!