Ben Askren has been the Bellator Welterweight champion since entering the Season 2 welterweight tournament in 2010. Utilizing a stifling wrestling game, he's defeated every single opponent that he's been matched up against. Without a doubt, he's one of the top grapplers in Mixed Martial Arts.
However, his contract with the promotion is up and he's now going to be testing the waters in free agency. It's pretty clear from his recent comments, that he wants to fight in the UFC, the home of the top welterweight fighters in the world.
Sherdog caught up with him to get his thoughts on Georges St. Pierre and the UFC welterweight champion's reputation for having the best wrestling in MMA.
The notion that he's the best wrestler is insane to me. He's got a great double leg and good timing, but just watching him, you see a lot of areas he's just not a natural wrestler. He doesn't flow as well as other wrestlers. If Johny Hendricks is training his wrestling, which that's a mistake that a lot of wrestlers make is they get out of it and they think they got to get better at striking and jiu jitsu and they totally forget about their wrestling. I did that for a couple of months earlier in my career and I learned. But they totally step away from wrestling and they get so rusty and they lose a lot of those battles. If Johny Hendricks is staying on point and getting some wrestling in, which hopefully he's smart enough to do, he'll definitely outwrestle Georges St. Pierre.
I'd go right for Georges St. Pierre. I don't think there's a real clear cut challenger after Hendricks. Maybe Hendricks gets hurt and I fight him right away. But there's no clear cut challenger that Georges St. Pierre hasn't already beat at 170, so I don't see why I can't just jump in there and beat somebody up.
Askren's current status is up in the air. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney told ESPN that he was willing to let Askren walk, citing his champion's style as "not for everyone."
Some have speculated that it's just promoter talk and a negotiation ploy, but the UFC and their personnel have been tweeting at Askren, stating they look forward to seeing him in the octagon. It's definitely apparent that Askren may have lost that "lovin' feeling" with Bellator.
As for his words about St. Pierre. If there is someone with the pedigree to discuss wrestling in MMA, it's Ben Askren. A two time NCAA Division 1 champion and member of the 2008 US Olympic team in wrestling, there isn't a better wrestler right now in MMA.
St. Pierre would definitely have trouble getting the fight to the ground against the superior wrestler.