Dana White has never been one to puff up fighters outside of his organization. Hell, he hardly ever passes up an opportunity to take his own roster down a peg or three these days. So it’s not surprising that he never got along with Ben Askren, one of the few premiere welterweights to spurn the UFC in favor of Bellator and ONE Championship.
’Hate’ may be a strong word, but both parties certainly threw enough barbs at each other over the years to make it obvious there was intense dislike. All that changed, though, after White traded away Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson to ONE in exchange for Ben Askren’s contract. Ben immediately turned his Twitter taunt machine on full blast against his new UFC welterweights, and now White really seems to like what he’s seeing.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Askren clarified that it’s not all water under the bridge, though. But so long as White and the UFC give him fights, he’s all whatever about it.
“I think when when one person and another person have a disagreement, the thing you need to do, if you want to have respect for each other, is sit down and have that conversation,” Askren told MMA Junkie. “We haven’t been able to do that so far.”
”He’s said nice things (in) the media, but that’s also because I volunteered to do the dirty work. I volunteered to switch and be the main event against Robbie (at UFC 233), Robbie said no. I volunteered to fight ‘Marty from Nebraska’ (Kamaru Usman), ‘Marty’ said no. I volunteered to fight dumb Colby (Covington). So he sees the value in what I’m doing, so now he’s being nice.”
“It’s whatever, though. What has happened in the past doesn’t just go away. Because of his position, he thinks that’s how it goes. But listen, I’m here to fight people in the cage, not be anyone’s best friend. If we develop a friendship, that’s fine. But I’m here to fight people in the cage.”
As for all that trashtalking that went on for years and years? Specific claims that Askren was a sleeping pill or unwilling to test himself against the real best in the UFC?
“I’m sure to a certain extent, he believed it – it had kernels of truth in them,” he said. “But there was a lot of BS in there. A few of them were total BS: ‘He needs more experience’? I mean, that one was the funniest one of them all. So a lot of them were BS.”
Askren will have a chance to prove just how BS all that doubting was when he faces Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 on March 2nd.