Apparently, Bellator MMA CEO Bjorn Rebney still holds former welterweight champ Ben Askren in high light—despite the fact that he shockingly released the renowned wrestler on Nov. 14.
During an interview with Sherdog's Beatdown Radio, Rebney colorfully elaborated on UFC president Dana White's decision to pass on Askren, a former two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champ who recently signed with Singapore-based promotion ONE FC.
It didn't follow the philosophy that the UFC espouses. It didn't follow their tagline, and it was too bad that they didn't even make him an offer. I understand if they'd made him an offer and Ben turned it down, but to not even make the No. 6-ranked guy in the world an offer, then stop saying the best fighters in the world fight in the UFC.
The unbeaten Askren (12-0) won nine straight fights in Bellator MMA, including five in 170-pound title scraps.
But roughly three months after Askren defended his belt for the fourth straight time with a lopsided win over Andrey Koreshkov, Rebney parted ways with the most dominant champ in the company's history.
Following his win over Koreshkov in late July, Askren and Rebney began engaging in unpleasant contractual disputes, a fallout that eventually led to Askren's release.
Still, despite their differences, Rebney contends that because Askren handled Bellator MMA's best with relative ease, he could do the same against top-flight UFC competition.
The reality with Ben Askren is that the UFC didn't want a one-dimensional Bellator champion being champion of the UFC, so they shied away from him, and then they've gone radio silent on him, trying not to engage in conversation because they don't want the conversation to continue. Ben Askren would have run the table at (170) at the UFC. Ben Askren ran the table here; he would have run the table there.
Rebney, however, has little leverage in his argument that Bellator is saturated with the sport's best fighters, especially considering Askren has yet to face a world-ranked welterweight.
Rebney may seem rash, but he's correct if he's assuming his bold claims will go untested for at least a few years. After all, Askren's under contract for two years and six fights with ONE FC, where the welterweight title is currently up for grabs.