Now-former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren appeared on the Dec. 9th edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and dropped bombshell after bombshell regarding his present and future in MMA. The biggest, most important topic he covered was his future in MMA.
After weeks of rumbles, Askren officially revealed that he will be leaving Bellator to join Singapore-based promotion ONE FC.
The announcement hardly comes as a surprise, with Bloody Elbow revealing last week that Askren had joined Evolve MMA, a gym he had previously trained at that is home to numerous ONE FC fighters such as Leandro Issa, Eddie Ng and many more. Askren joins numerous high-profile fighters in ONE, including Japanese submission artist Shinya Aoki, famed bantamweight Bibiano Fernandes and former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia.
The announcement still comes as something of a surprise, however, as many predicted that Askren would join World Series of Fighting—including UFC president Dana White, who strongly suggested he join the promotion to "show what he's got" in an interview with MMA Junkie.
According to Askren, though, it was Dana's suggestion that ultimately pushed him to join ONE.
"I thought we were going to come to a deal [with the UFC]," he said. "It's clear that it isn't about me, it's about Dana's quarrel with Bellator."
When a WSOF contract slid over his desk after being officially shot down by the UFC, though, he refused to let them call the shots for him: "I've got a really hard time with people telling me what to do, and if I'm you're employee, I'm going to listen to you...but now I'm not your employee and you're telling me what to do? That's crazy.
Ultimately, the welterweight seems content with where he's at and flatly stated he will be making more money than 85 to 90 percent of UFC fighters.
Unfortunately, ONE has a limited roster of welterweights. While he ultimately would have had the opportunity to face relatively established fighters like Jon Fitch and Josh Burkman in WSOF, the only opponent who lies on the horizon for him in ONE would be journeyman Phil Baroni, who is 2-7 since 2009.
Only time will tell what will happen with Askren in Asia.