MMA: Bellator Champ Askren Knows UFC Is in His Future

Dana Becker@@DanaBeckerContributor IIMay 17, 2011

LAS VEGAS - JUNE 15:  Ben Askren (blue) wrestles Tyrone Lewis (red) in the Freestyle 74kg division championship match during the USA Olympic trials for wrestling and judo on June 15, 2008 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Neveda.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Ben Askren knows there is only so much that Bellator Fighting Championships can offer, and that's why the current welterweight champion sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

That light is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which boasts arguably the best mixed martial artists in the world now that Strikeforce is under the Zuffa company umbrella.

"Now it's just a matter of time," Askren said during an interview with regarding a move to the UFC. "Because since they bought Strikeforce and obviously Pride's no longer around, or any other viable Asian promotion, I mean that's it. I'm on top of Bellator and I'm ranked 15th in the world, and so I think every single person above me is either in the UFC or Strikeforce, which is essentially all UFC."

"It's just a matter of time," he said. 

Since departing from the University of Missouri with two NCAA national titles, Askren has quickly made a name for himself.

First, he joined the U.S. Olympic wrestling team and competed with them in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Askren followed that up by entering a career in MMA, winning his first eight fights, including the Bellator Season Two Welterweight Tournament. He added the companies title to his resume with a unanimous decision victory over Lymon Good in 2010 at Bellator 33.

"I love what Bellator's doing for me," said Askren, who has been with them since his fourth professional fight. "And I've got nothing against that, but my goal is to be the best in the world, and I simply can't accomplish that in Bellator at this point."

"If I somehow could, I'd be fine to stay in Bellator," he said. 

Askren is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsui and is an assistant wrestling coach at Arizona State University.

Up next for Askren is a bout with former UFC fighter Jay Hieron this fall. Hieron recently won a Bellator tournament to earn his title shot.

Still, despite the step up in competition that Hieron represents, Askren knows his road to the UFC is laid out in front of him.

"Exactly," Askren said when asked if a move to the UFC was inevitable. "If I want to accomplish the goals I want to accomplish, then yes."