Since signing with ONE FC earlier this year, Ben Askren has been on a roll, earning two first-round stoppage victories in his first couple of fights with the overseas mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
His most recent win saw him dominate Nobutatsu Suzuki from the opening bell en route to a 74-second technical knockout victory this past weekend (Aug. 29, 2014) in Dubai, earning him the promotion's welterweight title (see it).
With four straight consecutive finishes to his credit, "Funky" has shed his lay-and-pray label and even got Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White to warm up to the idea of one day adding him to the UFC roster.
This, after White and Co. passed on the chance of signing the former Bellator champion first, thanks to a rocky history between Dana and the wrestling guru.
So what does Ben have to say now that the world's largest MMA promotion might be interested in his services down the road? Well, the answer he gave on The MMA Hour may surprise you.
"My initial feeling is kind of like, 'so what?' I mean, I sent out that tweet right after, obviously. It's kind of like, all of us had that time in high school where we were bullied by the cool kids. Then, all of a sudden we did something, and the cool group said, 'Oh my God, can you be a part of our group?' And some of us, who didn't have very little self esteem said, 'well, you didn't want me the first time, I'm okay, I'm doing alright.' And some of the other little people were like, 'oh my god, the cool kids want to hang out with me? Yes, please!' So I think it's kind of one of those things."
Ben went on to offer a rebuttal to Dana White's comments that he "said a lot of stupid shit" that ended up hurting his chances of getting a UFC contract early on.
In Ben's response, he says he only said "true shit," which had to do with his suggestion at implementing stricter, Olympic-level drug testing methods. Which just so happens to be something the promotion is now looking at doing two years later.
And as far as that whole "not being good enough" to be a UFC fighter early on, Askren says he has more skill in his pinky finger than half of the current UFC roster. Still, just because the cool MMA promotion is now warming up to him, doesn't mean that "Funky" is eager to jump ship.
"I have a hard time with how Dana White treats people. Even last weekend, Barao, did he make a mistake? Yeah, he blew it. He freakin' blew it, big time. He probably shouldn't be at 135 pounds. But the way Dana just threw him under the bus like he was a piece of garbage. Where was some human decency there? I think we've seen it time after time with Dana. And so I think at the end of the day he cares about his bottom line a lot and he doesn't care enough about the athletes."
Askren said he's currently happy and in a good spot with ONE FC, a promotion that did what UFC couldn't do in landing a deal to host shows on mainland China, Macau not included. And though he would love nothing more than to "slap Johny Hendricks around" and prove that's he is the best in the world, he's happy where he is for now.
"I'm really in a good spot. I really am. Being champion of ONE FC, you know, it's hard to say that I want to go somewhere else. Do I want to prove I'm the best in the world? Yes, 100 percent. Do I think I am? Yes, 100 percent. Do I want to slap Johny Hendricks around? Yes, 100 percent. But at the same time, I'm not going to get on my knees for Dana White and beg for a shot because I don't need that. And honestly, I would much rather retire and coach my wrestling academy and work with kids and make less money, than have to grovel for my chance like some of these company men in UFC are doing. Honestly, as a grown man, it's disgusting to me to see how some of these guys cater to their bosses."
Sorry, fight fans, it seems what little hope you may have thought you had of seeing Askren take on the cream of the crop inside the Octagon, is gone. Because aside from not begging anyone, Askren says having the letters "UFC" behind him isn't the end all, be all.
Furthermore, he isn't eager to leave a company that caters to a market of four billion people, has television deals with 70 different countries, and is on TV in one billion homes, for one that reaches around 400 million people like UFC.
And if you love numbers, you can bet White will throw out a few of his own if he ever catches wind of this.