Door to UFC shut forever on Ben Askren? It could be open just a crack
NOV 22, 2013 5:11p ET
Don't close the door on former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren signing with the UFC just yet. While UFC president Dana White recently went on the record saying the possibility was a non-starter in the company offices, his partner, company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta suggested on Thursday that the company may at least consider the possibility.
Apparently, the voiced disinterest was caused by Askren's free agency period, and the UFC believing that Bellator attempted to devalue Askren by labeling him with terms such as 'completely one-dimensional.'
Still, though, several polls have Askren ranked in the top 10, and he's still unbeaten at 12-0 with TKOs in his last two fights. In addition, his name has recently been buzzed about, with even UFC top 10 Demian Maia citing him as a possible future opponent.
All of that could give the UFC another reason to reevaluate their stance.
"At the end of the day, we need to take a step back and take a look at it," Fertitta told FOX Sports on Thursday. "I haven't had a chance to meet Ben Askren yet. Hopefully that will happen in the future. I'd love to hear what his side of the story is."
"I think unfortunately, Bellator did their absolute best they could to try to damage this kid's career in the way they handled this thing," he continued. "If they would have said, 'Your contract is up, go to market and see what you're worth, and either we'll outbid UFC or UFC will outbid us," as any fair business would treat people that work with them, I don't think there would be an issue. But they distinctly, in my opinion, tried to hurt this kid, tried to hurt his market value by basically saying, "You're boring, we're going to let you go." And just basically see if we were going to pick him up. We're not in the business of picking up Bellator fighters, I'll tell you that. But we'll have to wait and see how this whole thing plays out."
Askren had held the Bellator title for over three years. He was unconditionally released by Bellator on Nov. 14 after the two sides couldn't come to terms on a new deal. The 29-year-old former U.S. Olympic wrestler has spent most of the last week pitching himself to the UFC, even offering to fight for free in hopes of gaining the opportunity to compete in the UFC and prove he is the best welterweight in the world.