Ben Askren is certainly not the first mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to have his UFC welcome card revoked, but he may one of very best fighters to never step foot inside of the Octagon.
That’s because Askren has had a long and storied feud with UFC president Dana White, who has assured fight fans on multiple occasions that the promotion will never sign “Funky.” Askren has publicly blasted White for signing lesser experienced fighters like Patrick Cummins, while White has responded by calling the welterweight an “absolute moron” for talking about UFC.
Still, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan is willing to play mediator in a potential sit-down between White and Askren in order to bring about the best matchups at 170 pounds.
“I’ve talked to [White] about [signing Askren] in the past,” Rogan said during a recent episode of the JRE MMA Show. “I think if Ben and him sat down and I could be there, maybe I could help. I’d do that. I’d 100 percent be willing to do that.”
Askren, 33, recently announced his retirement from MMA after a first-round TKO finish over Shinya Aoki at ONE 63: “Immortal Pursuit” back in November. “Funky” leaves behind an undefeated professional record of 18-0, 1 (NC), including six knockouts, five submissions, and seven world title defenses. Basically, he’s the most decorated welterweight to never compete under the UFC banner.
“For me, it’s a no-brainer,” Rogan said. “You want to see the best versus the best, and he’s been able to do weird sh*t to people. ... He’s f*cking super articulate, super smart, f*cking great guy.”
Despite his offer, Rogan doesn’t know if the UFC will be interested in such a sit-down. While White has had issues with many fighters in the past, he has also made room for reconciliation. I guess it all comes down to whether or not UFC believes Askren is a fighter they can promote.
“I don’t know jack sh*t about promotion,” Rogan said. “I could be wrong. I might just be such a purist that I want the best to fight the best so much that I don’t give a f*ck what it looks like.”
For now, “Funky” will have to remain on the sidelines. But with Georges St-Pierre on yet another hiatus from fighting maybe the promotion will finally bury the hatchet with Askren and bring aboard another world-class welterweight.