"The New York Bad Ass" and "Funky" are far from friends.
Phil Baroni, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Pride FC veteran, took part in a telephone interview on a recent edition of The MMA Hour, and the topic of discussion was newly-signed ONE FC welterweight Ben Askren.
Baroni's rant was more or less a response to Askren's assessment of Baroni on the MMA Hour a week before, where he declared "The New York Bad Ass" was an "idiot," who "could not even be ranked in the top 200."
Baroni laughed it off at first, but he was more than eager to accept the fight.
"He's a pretty good talker. Where I come from, those are fighting words. If you want to fight, let's fight. I'm ready to fight."
What seemed to have upset Baroni the most, was when Askren referred to a moment in which Baroni and his wife, Angela, were seen going through trials and tribulations on American Kickboxing Academy's Fight Factory reality series. Askren, both on Twitter and on Helwani's show, made fun of Baroni for a scene which depicts the couple supposedly crying in the washroom.
"There's an unwritten rule. You don't talk about what goes on behind the scenes -- you don't talk about people's family. You don't bring that stuff into the media. You don't talk that kind of trash."
As for Askren's fictitious ranking scheme of Baroni, "The New York Bas Ass" took a jab at Askren's recent free agency dilemma, including his style.
"He's the only guy that's ever been released as a champion. I've never even heard of that. They didn't want nothing to do with him. He's not a fighter. He's definitely a good athlete, he's accomplished really high-level things in the sport of wrestling, and he's wrestling in the fights -- he's not a fighter. If he got into a fight with me, he'd find out what MMA fighting is all about. I'm a fighter."
If you care to think about it, does it make sense for an athlete of Askren's nature to face any other competitor on the ONE FC roster as of this moment? Maybe Baroni is a complete mismatch to Askren for some, however the simmering feud is brewing and Baroni feels it is the perfect opportunity for them to square off.
"I don't think there would be a bigger fight than me versus and Ben Askren in ONE FC. At least not in America. I'm not sure who he could fight next. No disrespect, but who's he going to fight next? Mr. Fuji? The Great Muta?"
Jokes aside, Baroni believes the potential scrap makes sense, given the circumstances of ONE FC's roster, and its lack of household names. He is also confident that he could walk away victorious if the fight materializes in the near future.
"Who's he going to fight? I just think I'm the biggest name over there. He's a good talker, I think he's going to promote the fight, and I think I'll beat him. I wouldn't take the fight if I really don't think I'll win. Honest to God, I think I'll win the fight."
Helwani reminded Baroni that he was aging at 37 and that Baroni, despite always being in fighting spirit possessing a career record of 15-17, imploded his ankle in his last fight at ONE FC 9: "Rise To Power" against Nobutatsu Suzuki.
"I'm not done yet. I still want to fight, I still want to compete. I would like to have a resurgence. I would like to have a couple of big wins before I hang it up. I don't want to go out like this. I don't want my last fight, to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher. It would be no better to make my comeback -- who knows, maybe in my last fight, I'll knock out Ben Askren. That would be a great way to go out -- not out on a stretcher."
Will ONE FC make it official, and pit these two up against each other to solve their differences in the cage? Only time will tell, but at this point, it seems bound to happen.
Some final notes from Baroni's closing statement?
"I really believe, when the fight's over...he'll be the one with the concussion. I watched his last couple of fights, and I wasn't impressed. He's slow. He's not a blast-through, big double-leg guy. He's a plodder, he's going to walk into shit and I'm going to lit him up and knock his ass out."
Your move, "Funky."