Undefeated UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov took some unexpected shots at newly-acquired welterweight contender Ben Askren earlier this week and “Funky” simply isn’t having it.
Khabib, who is hot off a submission win over Conor McGregor at UFC 229 this past October, discussed Askren’s crossover into UFC and how the undefeated welterweight needs to prove himself before anyone gets too excited. It seemed somewhat reasonable considering Askren retired from MMA back in 2017 after a TKO win over Shinya Aoki under the ONE Championship banner.
In case you missed it, here is what Khabib had to say about Askren in his recent interview with Submission Radio:
“He never fight in the UFC. He has to fight in the UFC first of all. He has to show his levels because I see how someone smash him in ONE FC. Somebody like smashed him in ONE FC. He just signed to the UFC and tried talk, you know.
But now everybody tries to talk and promote these things, but you have to compete in the UFC, then we’re gonna see his levels.”
After hearing the Russian champ’s words Askren is now firing back and has gone out of his way to challenge Khabib to a future title fight at 165 pounds.
Just heard what @TeamKhabib said, he will find his levels when he can’t get off his back and I am big brothering him. Will fight him@for 165lb title in October/November of this year.— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) January 26, 2019
“Just heard what @TeamKhabib said, he will find his levels when he can’t get off his back and I am big brothering him,” wrote Askren via Twitter. “Will fight him@for 165lb title in October/November of this year.”
Considering where both fighters are in their respective careers, a future clash isn’t entirely out of the question. Askren is currently scheduled to fight former UFC champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 this March and could very well lock down a title shot later this year if he can knock off “Ruthless” in decisive fashion.
As for Khabib, his options are somewhat limited at 155 pounds outside of a McGregor rematch or a long-awaited showdown with former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson, so there’s a strong chance he decides to move up in weight to further solidify his legacy as one of the best fighters in MMA history.
If the two were able to meet inside of the Octagon with their perfect records in tact it would be quite the scene. Of course, Askren will have to do some self promotion in the coming months if he wants to start sticking out among casual UFC fight fans. He’ll need to achieve an elevated level of popularity to have any chance of scoring a fight with “The Eagle” in 2019, especially in a UFC division that doesn’t exist just yet.