Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney recently turned heads when he revealed the company was content to let welterweight champion Ben Askren pursue other options, such as the UFC, after the expiration of the unbeaten Olympian’s deal. Though Askren’s ability to take opponents down and grind them into powder may not necessarily be a fan-friendly approach to victory, there’s no question “Funky” is one of the most skilled competitors Bellator has had since its inception.
Askren addressed the matter in an interview with MMAJunkie where he admitted he understood why he was being unleashed and expressed excitement about the possibility of testing his abilities against the cream of the crop in the UFC…
On Bellator’s decision to let him pursue other deals:
“Let’s face it – they’ve got these guys they’re trying to bring up, trying to make into stars, and then I outstrike them 248-3 and make them look like they’re a child. It’s pretty tough to make them a star after that.”
“Honestly, I think it could be a ploy on their part to get the UFC to make a lower offer, so when they go to match it’s not as hard.”
On fighting in the UFC:
“I got in MMA for one reason: to see if I could be the best in the world. Actually, he’s doing me a favor if he lets me go to the UFC and test myself. I mean, I wouldn’t be upset that I’m getting paid a bunch of money to beat up guys who aren’t as good as me, but I would like those challenges if it’s possible.”
“I don’t know that there are any challenges left in Bellator, so yeah, I think the only challenges for me are in the UFC.”