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Welterweight Champion Ben Askren's contract expires following successful Bellator 97 title defense

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Uh oh, someone is potentially about to become a free agent.

Photo via Bellator

That cat's out of the bag.

Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren had quite a bit on his plate this past Wednesday night (July 31, 2013) during his successful title defense against number one contender Andrey Koreshkov in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

It was also the last fight on his contract with the promotion.

The situation was brought to Askren's attention during a Bellator 97 post-fight media scrum. He simply smiled and had this to say when asked about what the next step was for him and Bellator.

"I guess the secret's out. We'll find out. I'm not sure."

What makes this so interesting is the fact that Askren's deal ran out in the first place. The "Funky" unbeaten former Olympian has been knocking on the door of the top 10 in the overall mixed martial arts welterweight rankings so you'd expect him to be a hot commodity for the promotion.

Bellator didn't waste any time signing Lightweight champion Michael Chandler to an long-term contract extension prior to his title defense at the same event on Wednesday night.

This means Askren is now in the exclusive negotiating period of his deal. He'll have some time where only Bellator can discuss a new deal and if that expires, he'll transition to the matching period where he can field offers from other promotions but Bellator will have the right to match any deal from elsewhere if they should choose. This is what happened with Eddie Alvarez.

If Askren does somehow wriggle free and wind up in UFC, he was asked how he thinks he'd perform against UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. His answer?

"I think it would be a little more difficult but something like that."

By "that" he means the 248-3 striking disparity with over 16 dominant positions he held against Koreshkov over the course of nearly four rounds before scoring a fourth round TKO in one of the most one-sided fights in MMA history.

Where do you want Askren to wind up?