With the dominant performance Ben Askren put on display at Bellator 97: "Askren vs. Koreshkov," there has been talk of a potential step up in competition for the undefeated welterweight champion. With that talk, comes discussion of a jump for the man they call "Funky" from Bellator to crosstown rival Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
While many in the mixed martial arts (MMA) media were (and are) in full-fledged support of this potential brand switch happening, UFC President Dana White has been less than complimentary toward a man he calls "the most boring fighter in history."
White told reporters during this afternoon's UFC Fight Night 26 media scrum (video here) that he'll talk to Askren about a future inside the Octagon, which means Bellator may need to pull out all the stops to keep the 170-pound champion, whose contract came to a close following his recent thrashing of Andrey Koreshkov.
This means Askren is now in the exclusive negotiating period of his contract. He'll have some time where only Bellator can discuss a new deal and if that comes to an end, he'll transition to the matching period where he can field offers from other promotions like UFC.
One can only hope something similar doesn't occur with Askren.
Regardless of the outcome, the Roufusport team member has the ball in his court and will be looking to parlay this into what is best for him and his growing brand. He would fit in well with a stacked UFC welterweight division and make for a potentially intriguing match-up against fellow grappling extraordinaire, Georges St. Pierre.
He already said he's "100-percent sure" he could beat him.
With Bellator recently signing fellow champion Michael Chandler for the foreseeable future and just this week finally coming to terms with Eddie Alvarez (details), the companies top priority should be continuing to lock up as much young, promising talent as possible.