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Midnight Mania! Ben Askren claims UFC said it would sign him ... until he left Bellator MMA

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This weekend saw the Bellator welterweight title change hands, with Rory Macdonald snatching it from Douglas Lima in a hard-fought bout. Macdonald, with a convincing win on his record over UFC champion Tyron Woodley, has a case for being the best welterweight in the world right now.

He’s not the first Bellator welterweight champion to make that case. For years, Ben Askren claimed that he was the best in the world. Unlike Rory, he never got the chance to test himself against top-flight UFC competition; he left Bellator, hoping to join the UFC, but they famously rebuffed him, refusing to make him an offer. Instead of taking their suggestion he go to the now-defunct World Series of Fighting (WSOF), he went to ONE FC, a top Asian promotion, and finished out his career there.

Recently, however, he went on the JRE to spill the beans on what went wrong- and it’s quite the story. Transcription via

So when I was 12-0, I had my last fight in Bellator against Andrey Koreshkov on July 30, maybe 31, of 2013 and I beat him up pretty good. I had a 12-month matching period, so what was expressed to me by the UFC brass was that you need to get out of your matching clause and we will make you an offer, but, we won’t make you an offer until that happens. So I called Bjorn [Rebney] and I said, ‘Hey Bjorn, I’m not going to re-sign, let me go. Bjorn had a terrible reputation, but I never had a problem with him, we never butted heads too bad. Anyway, I said Bjorn, I don’t want to come back, but people say that they didn’t want me back, but that’s not true at all, but every day, I was like, ‘Bjorn let me go, Bjorn let me go,’ and I love challenges. There’s nothing more in the world that I love than a challenge. Go through my wrestling career, it’s what I’m all about, taking the next best single thing every time. So all this time, Dana and the UFC are saying, ‘We want Ben Askren. We want Ben Askren.’ I’m ranked number 7 in the world and 12-0 and so, I was going to the Asian store because I was going to make some Tom Kah soup and Bjorn called me and said, ‘You’re released. You’re released, you can go.’ I said, ‘I appreciate that.

But, that’s where things went wrong.

So Friday morning I go, it’s in November some time, mid-November. So they fax over the release and my manager faxes it over to UFC headquarters and in the afternoon, there’s a media scrum where one of the questions was asked about me and Dana [White] said,We aren’t interested in Ben Askren,’ and I was like wait, what’s just happened there, because for the last three months they were saying they were interested. Now, I finally produce this full release from Bellator, which was a miracle that I got, and now they aren’t interested. So I was like, wow, I just got caught in the middle of this.

I was like f’ that and I bought a plane ticket to Vegas for Monday. I was like fuck that, I’m not taking this shit, I’m going to Vegas. So on the Monday, I fly out to Las Vegas to the UFC headquarters and I sit with Lorenzo [Fertitta] and Dana is on the speakerphone. They offered me a Zuffa contract, but it would be confidential and that I would have to fight one fight for World Series Of Fighting, which was like, that’s bizarre. I think the old relationship between the old WSOF and UFC was pretty hazy, but people went the other way, right? Like Andrei Arlovski got dropped into World Series, Anthony Johnson, boom, all these people. So they said one fight in WSOF and Zuffa will pay you, but you do one fight. So that was f’d up, but OK. I don’t think they thought I was going to go for it, but I said I’d do it. So I leave, and about six hours later and I got a phone call saying that deal is no longer available, we aren’t’ going to make you an offer. So, wow.

Ben Askren isn’t sure exactly why Dana White didn’t want to sign him. It certainly colored his perception of the man, who he recently called an “insecure scumbag.”

Here’s my guess and I never got to sit face-to-face and say what was your problem with me. There are four things in my mind. Number one, he didn’t really like me, stemming from the, I called him out on the steroid thing where he said it’s impossible to test all UFC athletes. I said that’s not true because USADA does it all over the world for all sorts of sports. You can do it, but it’s just expensive so let’s just call it what it is. They do it now and I was correct, but when Dana is wrong in an argument, and he’s got this huge army that following him and I think his quote was, ‘I’d rather watch flys fuck than Ben Asken fight.’ So the personal attacks started and that’s number one.

Number two, my fighting style isn’t highly attractive. I also think that’s a little bit of fake news because if you look at Georges St-Pierre, consistently, now [Conor] McGregor has trumped him, but if you look on a consistent basis Georges has been the biggest draw. He heavily relied upon takedowns and ground and pound.

Three, I think they wanted to take a key piece from Bellator. Four, I think they really believed I could be their champion and having a champion from Bellator transition right into the UFC and become champion, remember Bellator was going to Spike around now, and Bellator could’ve used that to say they’re the same.

Askren says he can theorize all day, but he doesn’t know because he’s never had the chance to ask Dana about it.

I’ve never had the chance to sit down with Dana and ask why there was no offer. You know when like Anthony Pettis was the champ and I’m helping coach him and I think Tyron was, I’ve never had more than five words with Dana in passing right and so it would be really interesting for me to sit down and talk and say ‘tell me for real.’ I’ve got my assumptions on what the deal was, but I don’t really know.

If I had to have number five, I think he got the idea that I’d never be a ‘yes man’. I’m not going to be, I’m never going to be. He likes the ‘yes man’ champion. He’s got some heat with Tyron, he’s got some heat with Stipe as we saw on Saturday night. Dana really struggles with the personalities that won’t cater to what he wants to happen.”

Askren says he would be willing to return, but only for a fight that would prove he is the best in the world. He has frequently picked on Rory Macdonald in the past -- could Bellator’s new champion be the catalyst for the Funky One’s return?


Rory Macdonald’s victory at Bellator 192 wasn’t easy.

Accurate bobblehead:

Rory loved it!

So pumped on this, @plasticcell did an amazing job #art

A post shared by Rory "RED KING" Macdonald (@romac_gorilla) on

His leg was all messed up ...

“It hurts, but it will fade” is one of the phrases that make Rory ... different?

Bruce Buffer always has a great view -- in this case Francis Ngannou coming in hot at Stipe Miocic.

@brucebufferufc with the best seat in the house

A post shared by As Shopped As It Gets (@as_shopped_as_it_gets_) on

I like this version of the Fedor meme:

Dana put all his Ngannous in one basket

A post shared by COMBAT SPORTS / MARTIAL ARTS (@thestranglesquad) on

The Miocic family have their priorities straight!

Dan Henderson wrestling like this is a LONG time ago.

Good lil throwback

A post shared by Dan Henderson (@danhendo) on

Tony Ferguson loves weird jiu-jitsu, and this is beyond weird ... and looks incredibly painful.

Demetrious Johnson hurt his shoulder on his Twitch stream. The best part of this is a UFC champion asking, “why do they have to do it so violently??”

Michael “Venom” Page isn’t remotely bothered by Paul Daley’s bitter criticism of Bellator’s handling of his career.

Small dogs sometimes know no fear.


A post shared by Yves Edwards (@thugjitsumaster) on

Derrick Lewis is Always Online, so he never misses classics like this:

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on

Or knockouts like this:

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on

Max Holloway with his finger on the pulse of martial arts in pop culture:

Chael Sonnen out-wrestled a very overweight “Rampage” in the main event of Bellator 192 and acted like he had really accomplished a feat. I guess he did: He earned a cool $300,000 ... just like Rampage.

Volkan Oezdemir was instantly focused on learning from his loss to Daniel Cormier this weekend -- a good sign for him moving forward:

This real-life spinning elbow turned out to be a fantastic sucker-punch ... er... sucker-bow.

Rose Namajunas came by her skills honestly:

#tbt when I’d get ribbed for being a #martialartist #whatevs

A post shared by Rose Namajunas (@rosenamajunas) on

Tara LaRosa finally fought that Internet troll ... sort of. They rolled, and it was underwhelming, to say the least. He gassed quickly, and she tapped him a couple times.

Tara LaRosa vs Kris Zylinski (Internet Troll) #Rolljunkie #McDojoLife

Posted by Mcdojolife on Monday, January 22, 2018

Podcasts and Video

UFC 220 highlights! Follow MMA Mania on Youtube

The MMA Hour:

Jack Slack’s Fights Gone By with the overly harsh take on Francis Ngannou:

The Severe MMA podcast:

The Co-Main Event podcast:

Random Land

Nice blade!

Check out this shot

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