When Ben Askren's contract came up in July, many believed that there would be another bidding war between Bellator and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. After all, as Bellator's Welterweight champion, Ben Askren amassed a 9-0 record in the promotion and defended the title four times.
As one of the few top 10 fighters outside of the UFC, it was only logical to think that UFC President Dana White would at least entertain the idea of signing "Funky" to a contract. White even said that he was willing to speak with Askren and see if they could come to terms.
However, White revealed this week that the UFC won't be pursuing Askren's talents and actually feels bad that he became a pawn in the battle between the UFC and Viacom/Bellator. He cited the very true fact that despite his undefeated record, Askren really hasn't built the resume needed to compete in the Octagon.
Following Friday night's (Nov. 15, 2013) Bellator 108 card at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Bjorn Rebney spoke with MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas about Ben Askren and his thoughts on the UFC's lack of interest in the former champion.
"I think it's disingenuous and ridiculous. If you stand up consistently at every press conference and meeting and every scrum and say the best fighters in the world fight here, and the No. 6-ranked welterweight in the world becomes available - unrestricted with no matching rights - and you don't even make him an offer, then you need to stop saying the greatest fighters in the world fight there."
While Rebney can call it "disingenuous", the UFC doesn't need to sign every fighter that becomes available on the free-agent market. Like with all negotiations, the UFC looked at Askren and made its decision on a cost-benefit basis.
Which is the same exact reason why Rebney granted Askren a release after failing to come to terms in renegotiations.
"His value of his perception in the marketplace was higher than my perception of his value to this company. I don't know what he's going to make where he goes. I hope he makes a fortune wrestling people to death."
The biggest losers here are the future fighters that spark "interest" from the UFC. Because Bjorn Rebney and company were outwitted by Dana White when it came to Ben Askren. It's unlikely that they'll allow that to happen again.