Since it was announced earlier this week that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) may acquire undefeated welterweight Ben Askren from ONE Championship in exchange for pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson, fighters of all shapes and sizes have pointed their fingers at “Funky” in hopes of welcoming him to the Octagon.
One of those callouts spilled out of the mouth of former interim UFC welterweight titleholder Colby Covington, who Askren unexpectedly targeted earlier this week. Covington, who is a verbal renegade these days, wasted little time responding by calling the ONE Championship standout “old” and a “joke.”
Now Covington is turning up the heat. In a recent interview with FloCombat, “Chaos” questions Askren’s ability to move the needle as a top draw. The outspoken Covington doesn’t believe Askren is a fighter anyone should be worried about.
“I don’t really have too [many] thoughts on it,” Covington said. “He’s piping up the wrong tree, he’s asking for this big fight and he’s never won a fight in the top 50 let alone the top 20.
”He’s trying to prove himself by calling me out but I’m America’s champ. My skills got me to the White House. Where the hell has that loser ever been? Nowhere. He’s not been anywhere. Where have his skills taken him? Malaysia? That’s really cool. He ain’t ready for the big cities and the bright lights. I just sold out the United Center like Michael Jordan. 15,000 plus were on their feet in Chicago to witness greatness.”
“That needle d*ck can’t get 15 people into an Asian bingo hall. They gave him away for a midget for Christ’s sake. There’s levels to this sh*t.”
Askren, 34, has amassed an undefeated professional MMA record of 18-0 (1 NC). He has destroyed each and every opponent he has ever faced under the ONE Championship and Bellator MMA banners. But when it comes to facing the elite of the elite, “Funky” doesn’t have a laundry list of top guys on his resume, which is why Covington is reluctant to buy into the hype.
“Nothing about Ben Askren impresses me,” Covington said. “He’s a one-dimensional fighter. He’s never hurt a fly. He hasn’t beat anybody relevant. He hasn’t beat anybody top 50 in the world. If he proves himself and works his way up, he’s an easy payday for me but he’s not a draw. No one gives a f*ck about him. If he wants to come to the big boy’s league, he’s been in the little boy’s league, but you’re going to have to work your way up.
”I’m not reaching to the bottom of the mountain to pick guys up anymore. I’m at the top of the UFC mountain. You’ve got to earn your way up. I’m not helping you. If you work your way up, don’t worry buddy, I’ll leave you unconscious and we’ll send you back to the prelims where you [belong].”
For now, Askren remains a retired fighter under contract with ONE Championship. While fighters like Covington may not want to pay Askren the respect he deserves, UFC is willing to trade away one of the very best fighters in the history of the sport to get him.
That has to mean something even if “Funky” isn’t an instant needle mover.