Is Signing Ben Askren The Right Move For The UFC?

News recently broke that Bellator president Bjorn Rebney would not offer his Welterweight champion Ben “Funky” Askren a new contract, which leaves the door open for him to sign with other promotions. It came as kind of a surprise, but then again, we’ve heard the exact same thing before when Eddie Alvarez’s contract with Bellator ran out last year.

Askren has been rather vocal in the past about his thoughts on fighting current UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, and now he may have a free path to do so. Rebney spoke up to ESPN about letting his undefeated champion walk away:

“I don’t think we’re going to make an offer at this point, so I don’t see any reason to make anybody sit out. If Ben’s going to go to the UFC, we should speed up that process so he can go fight. I’d love to see Ben versus GSP. If the UFC does make an offer, we’ll take a look at it and move on from there. We haven’t been proactive yet. I have nothing but good things to say about Ben as a fighter, but we’re all very aware of how he fights and what he does — it’s not for everyone.”

Indeed, Askren has drawn the ire of many a fan due to his wrestling-based style that is largely deemed as very boring, so in that sense, he already has much in common with GSP. Askren was last seen at Bellator 97 dismantling prospect Andrey Koreshkov with a smothering performance to earn the TKO. The former two-time NCAA wrestling champion has yet to taste defeat in an MMA cage, and has three submission victories, three TKOs, and six decisions on his unblemished record.

But that doesn’t appear to matter to Rebney, whose Bellator promotion has gotten a decent amount of publicity in the last year for producing action-packed cards with a ton of knockouts.

Apparently, a fighter like Askren isn’t in their plans for the foreseeable future, but it’s surprising to see Rebney come out and say it (albeit in a mildly roundabout manner). I don’t see a messy contract dispute unfolded here like it did with Alvarez. Askren is free to go and seek out his dream matchup against GSP.

The question is, will the UFC even want him? Is it in their best interest to sign Askren, a fighter who has come to embody many of the things that people loathe about boring MMA fights? True, the argument can be made that if you don’t like how he fights, then learn how to stop it. The same thing has been argued over and over again about St. Pierre for years now, ever since he came back and fought safer following his loss to Matt Serra.

However, GSP has a drawing power that Askren could not even fathom. It’s tough to imagine that the UFC will want to offer Askren a contract so he can work his way up their already stacked Welterweight division with a series of boring decisions, because I don’t really see him finishing off any of the fighters in the Top-10 at 170 lbs. I could be wrong, and he could surprise a lot of people inside the Octagon.

But if Askren puts on the same kind of bouts that he’s become known for, sorry to say it, but no one is going to pay to watch him fight GSP, and certainly not anyone else lower down the rankings.

There’s no doubt Askren is a highly talented wrestler with a punishing style that is beyond effective for him inside the cage. That just doesn’t translate to fans in today’s MMA because it is not getting him any signature victories. Dana White wants fighters that bring it every time out to the cage, and Askren definitely does, but his (and many others’ wrestling-based strategies) have prompted the outcry for the need to change MMA scoring.

The UFC Welterweight division may have enough talented wrestlers in its ranks as well. Askren may or may not mix things up immediately if he gets signed, but I just don’t see it happening. What are your thoughts? Should the UFC sign the decorated wrestler and risk the chance that he smothers each and every opponent on the way to a bout against GSP? 


19 Comments

  1. Avatar of falcon4917

    falcon4917

    August 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I have to say GSP and Fitch are not all that exciting but they are 10 times more exciting than Askren. I am thinking Askren will just have to go back to doing competitive wrestling as I think nobody will want him even if he is the best. I would like to see him fight GSP or Silva and then win or lose leave the promotion as I will no longer want to see any more.

  2. Avatar of UnderdogGreatness

    UnderdogGreatness

    August 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Is Signing Ben Askren The Right Move For The UFC?

    HELL NO!

    'd rather watch either paint dry or the WWE than watch Ben Askren lie on top of someone for 15 – 25 minutes a fight. Believe it or not, this guy actually makes Georges Safe-Pierre look like an exciting fighter, sad but true.

  3. Avatar of thexperience1

    thexperience1

    August 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    There must be more to this story… as a promotion u dont just let your CHAMP, walk out the door. It makes no sense….

  4. Avatar of matt1926

    matt1926

    August 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Ben is always saying he's the best in the world after all of his boring fights. He has also talked sh*t about Dana and the UFC in the past. I think Dana wants to sign him just to finally see him get his *** kicked. And THAT I would pay to see.

    What does that say if Bellator won't even sign him?? I think we all know the answer to that one.

  5. Avatar of Endo

    Endo

    August 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Seems like a bit of a slap in the face trying to keep the exciting fighter (in Eddie) and letting the UFC pick up the boring guy that no one wants to watch. Dana hates Askren anyway and won't sign him out of principle and as an f u to Bjorn.

  6. Avatar of kungfurule

    kungfurule

    August 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Askren should fight the human python Maia that would fix his little red wagon :)

  7. Avatar of dropkickmurphy

    dropkickmurphy

    August 21, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    What is the opposite of "This is the best move I can think of and I am so excited for it"?

  8. Avatar of enjoylife321

    enjoylife321

    August 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    SHOWBOATER !!

  9. Avatar of IChokePeople

    IChokePeople

    August 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I actually think Askeren vs GSP has the potential to be good. Their wrestling might cancel out and lead to a stand up fight where GSP has such a huge advantage that he might actually get a KO for once. This could end up being like the second GSP Vs Matt Hughes II. Sign him, let GSP dismantle him, give him one more fight against Maia and then send him on his way.

  10. Avatar of Lokkey

    Lokkey

    August 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I'd rather watch my clothes dry after washing them.

  11. Avatar of Cpt. Paranoid

    Cpt. Paranoid

    August 22, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Do you really think he is that good that he could smother guys in the UFC? I think he has to learn a hole lot of new tricks to make it in the UFC. He has a looooong way to go before he is near a fight with GSP even if Dana would sign him. He'd never make the top5.

  12. Avatar of KeithFarrell

    KeithFarrell

    August 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Honestly Askren has looked better in his last two fights.
    If for nothing else, I would like to see him come to the UFC just to judge where he is really at and maybe he can put on an exciting fight when he is pushed (think Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva).

    I would actually be excited for Maia vs. Askren, super high level ground battle… I've seen footage of Askren get destroyed by high level grapplers in the gym so I wonder if Maia could do the same in the Octagon.

  13. Avatar of asdf

    asdf

    August 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

    At the end of the day MMA is a sport. Yes boring fighters are a concern for the promoter and fans. But the sport needs that diverse aspect. I think it is also important for athletes to fight different fighters to improve and help to evolve MMA in general.

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