Ben Askren wanted out of his Bellator contract before it was set to expire.
The 12-0 welterweight champion felt as if he had conquered everything Bjorn Rebney and Co. had to offer and was ready to try his hand in the slaughterhouse known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 170-pound division.
This would never come to pass and now the undefeated 29-year-old finds himself set make his debut this spring with ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC), a Victor Cui-owned promotion that refers to itself as the "largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in Asia."
In an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week, the former Olympic wrestler laid out details of his deal with the Singapore-based promotion.
The contract that Askren signed with ONE FC is for six fights over two years and he will earn $50,000 guaranteed just for showing up to his (yet unscheduled) first bout, with another $50,000 in bonus pay should he emerge victorious. He also has an incentive included in the agreement that specifies his winnings increase for each subsequent bout, should he continue winning.
The key point for "Funky" was making more cheddar. His first bout overseas will bank Askren nearly double what he made in his last fight with Bellator.
While it may seem as if Askren was being bid on by three promotions, in reality he was courting UFC while World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and ONE FC gave their best offers. In the end, the Roufusport and EVOLVE member says the money offered by ONE FC paired with the opportunity for him and his family to travel worldwide around his fight schedule, made the decision easy.
ONE FC already has its first card of 2014 set and Askren's name is not on it.
When he does finally enter the cage for the first time since his departure from Bellator, Askren will be taking the first step toward what he calls his goal in MMA from the beginning: Fighting inside the fabled Octagon of UFC.
Until then, Askren finds himself in the same position he was in while a member of Bellator's roster: the best welterweight under the promotion's banner.