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Bellator releases Ben Askren

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Ariel Helwani ‏@arielhelwani 2h

 

Bellator just announced they released Ben Askren. He can now sign with any promotion. Interestingly, UFC hasn't shown much interest so far.

 

http://mmajunkie.com/2013/11/14/bellato ... en-askren/

 

Longtime welterweight champion Ben Askren is a Bellator MMA fighter no more.

 

After a relationship with the fighter turned contentious, including a peculiar scenario in which company officials said they would consider waiving their matching rights if he were granted an immediate UFC title shot, Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney today announced he’s released the fighter.

 

“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” Rebney stated. “I had a number of discussions with Ben, and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions. We’ve relinquished any right to match here, and Ben can sign with whoever he chooses to sign with. Ben’s been at Bellator since the start of his career. I respect him and what he’s accomplished and wish him the best wherever he goes.”

 

Askren (12-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA), a two-time NCAA Division I national champion wrestler, most recently fought in July, when he stopped Andrey Koreshkov with a fourth-round TKO at Bellator 97. Before that, he stopped Karl Amoussou after three rounds. The two stoppages broke a streak of six straight decision wins – decisions that led to plenty of criticism from fans, from UFC President Dana White and even in some ways from Rebney.

 

As Askren and his boss bickered in the media after the fighter fulfilled the last bout on his contract, Rebney raised some eyebrows with a blunt assessment of the former Olympian and undefeated fighter.

 

“I’ve been a staunch supporter of Ben Askren,” Rebney recently said. “We can all agree: He’s ridiculously one-dimensional. But the issue with that one dimension is that he’s better at it than anyone on the face of the earth. … I don’t know if Ben will be with us. I don’t know if Ben will be with the UFC. But wherever he goes, he will remain dominant and he will remain amazingly effective at the one thing he does better than anybody.”

 

Rebney later said he’d waive Bellator’s matching rights if the UFC offered Askren an immediate title shot. It did little to sway the UFC, though.

 

“They’re playing f—ing games,” White later told MMAjunkie.com. ” … I don’t give a s–t what they’re doing.”

 

However, at least one UFC rep was intrigued by the idea of Askren joining the ranks: reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who said he welcomed a champion-vs.-champion fight. St-Pierre is ranked No. 1 and Askren is No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA welterweight rankings.

 

“Of course (I’d like to fight him),” St-Pierre recently told MMAjunkie.com. “He’s a good fighter, undefeated, and yes, if he comes, I’ll fight him. No problem.”

 

St-Pierre, of course, fights top contender Johny Hendricks on Saturday at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.

 

With the Bellator welterweight title now vacant, officials said a new champion will be crowned when Douglas Lima faces the Season 9 welterweight tournament winner in early 2014.

 

For more on the UFC and Bellator, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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I don't know much about MMA, but isn't it odd that a promoter attacks his (former?) champion based on his style?

 

I assume he is objecting to Ben winning by wrestling. But if the promoter doesn't like how guys win, can't he just change the rules? The NFL does this all the time.

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no one ever said he was fun to watch just like people say with howe but they win so there isn't much they can do in wrestling but if you have a card where promoters can pick and choose who they want to be involved they can black list people and it becomes political just like askren is now seeing that he isn't markeable in mma he has come back to wrestling saying remember me I will save you all even though I turned my back on you before

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no one ever said he was fun to watch just like people say with howe but they win so there isn't much they can do in wrestling but if you have a card where promoters can pick and choose who they want to be involved they can black list people and it becomes political just like askren is now seeing that he isn't markeable in mma he has come back to wrestling saying remember me I will save you all even though I turned my back on you before

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no one ever said he was fun to watch just like people say with howe but they win so there isn't much they can do in wrestling but if you have a card where promoters can pick and choose who they want to be involved they can black list people and it becomes political just like askren is now seeing that he isn't markeable in mma he has come back to wrestling saying remember me I will save you all even though I turned my back on you before

 

BRGUY, If this is right, it seems like MMA is worse than boxing. At least in boxing, if you keep winning you will get a title shot eventually. Plus there are many promoters. In MMA, there are just two, and they seem to completely control their stables of talent. Looks to me like MMA is more like a Broadway show than a sport. Also, it looks like an antitrust violation.

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For all of you wrestling "purists" out there, this is a perfect example of the difference between sport and business. Nothing against Askren. I love the guy. But obviously, there's more to the business side than winning.

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For all of you wrestling "purists" out there, this is a perfect example of the difference between sport and business. Nothing against Askren. I love the guy. But obviously, there's more to the business side than winning.

 

 

Bingo. Askren was waived because he doesn't draw enough fans / money to Bellator. Additionally, his style would make Dana White go crazy.

 

Askren is an incredible wrestler, but MMA fans don't want to watch one guy grab the other guy and hold him to the ground for five five minute periods. Twenty five minutes with 5 takedowns and no escapes would be boring. Heck, that would be boring in wrestling.

 

Phil Davis is a great wrestler, and his MMA ranking is starting to climb very high. Is he a dynamic MMA fighter? His striking still needs to greatly improve imho.

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I don't know much about MMA, but isn't it odd that a promoter attacks his (former?) champion based on his style?

 

I assume he is objecting to Ben winning by wrestling. But if the promoter doesn't like how guys win, can't he just change the rules? The NFL does this all the time.

MMA promoters are big loud mouths that like to talk and act tough.

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The 3rd man in the Octagon puts them back on their feet if nothing is happening down there. I'm pretty sure someone will find a way to defeat such a "one dimensional" fighter. Ben seems to disprove the common thought that you have to be well rounded in all aspects to win in today's MMA. Striking, ground and pound, Muy Thai (sp) BJJ... I can appreciate him doing what he does, but I can see where the popularity of the sport is being dictated by more action and violence, and not just ugly wins.

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Bottom line is that to all of the mma fans who are not from a wrestling background (or Askren fans), Ben is a really boring fight to watch. That doesn't make money for the promotions - even if he is winning.

 

It's an entertainment industry, and people want to see actual fighting. Ben might have shot himself in the foot here... Although he out struck his last opponent something like 240-3, Ben's strikes were on top and looked like really soft love taps to the random fan. Ben has had multiple opportunities to put in submissions and do damage on top, but chose to break his opponent's will and prove how good he is at "his" style. Maybe if he would have finished some guys he would be more attractive for the UFC.

 

He's also publicly criticized Dana White in the past, which doesn't help. DW has said multiple times he hates Ben's style.

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Bellator CEO Rebney is an interesting character. What he's been doing with Askren is trying to outmaneuver the UFC. After the UFC lost big-time on acquiring Eddie Alvarez from Bellator during the Bellator matching period, the UFC is being more cautious about signing Bellator guys.

 

I suspect Rebney figured Askren and the UFC were going to wait until the Bellator matching period ended in July 2014 to make a deal, rather than risk Bellator matching the UFC's offer, or going to court. So with the assumption Bellator was going to lose Askren no matter what, Rebney had to control Askren's departure in a way that was most advantageous to Bellator.

 

By releasing Askren today, it maximizes the pressure to give Askren a high-profile UFC fight. Hendricks fights GSP for the strap in two days, so this news will be in the air and part of all the post-fight questions. Second, by saying both that Askren is really good but also boring, he saves some face for Bellator after it was unable to retain him.

 

I think the UFC will sign Askren, and pit him against a top-five-to-ten fighter. Askren could face the loser of GSP/Hendricks, or Condit, Ellenberger, or Maia. Askren could also face Lawler if he beats MacDonald, or MacDonald if he beats Lawler and GSP beats Hendricks. Because MacDonald will not fight GSP, a MacDonald-Askren fight would be the most profitable fight for MacDonald if both GSP and MacDonald win.

 

(If MacDonald wins and GSP loses, I think MacDonald gets a title shot, unless the GSP-Hendricks fight is unusual. Dana White has been pining for a MacDonald-GSP fight for a long time, and there's no better way to make that happen than to have MacDonald be the champ. If MacDonald loses, he has to work his way back to relevance.)

 

Personally, I think Rebney is counting on a GSP win and a MacDonald win, and hopes to sink the MacDonald ship with Askren. MacDonald is a rising star -- having recently destroyed BJ Penn among others -- and if Askren beats him, it will make Bellator look more like an equal to the UFC.

 

I also think the UFC will definitely sign Askren. If they don't, there are always other promotions. The World Series of Fighting would undoubtedly come calling. Tons of people would love to see a Fitch-Askren fight.

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Of course GSP would love to fight Askren. He would hurt Ben bad. He would still be successful in the UFC, and I think Dana might be underestimating his marketability (despite his boring fights). Yeah, he would get booed every fight, but he would be the ultimate villain -- 'if you don't like it, find somebody that can whoop my arse' type of marketability. People would tune in just to root against the guy. That said, I've never seen anyone at that level w/ worse striking ability; it's like he's never thrown a punch before. Unfortunately, he throws punches everyday for his job.

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Of course GSP would love to fight Askren. He would hurt Ben bad. He would still be successful in the UFC, and I think Dana might be underestimating his marketability (despite his boring fights). Yeah, he would get booed every fight, but he would be the ultimate villain -- 'if you don't like it, find somebody that can whoop my arse' type of marketability. People would tune in just to root against the guy. That said, I've never seen anyone at that level w/ worse striking ability; it's like he's never thrown a punch before. Unfortunately, he throws punches everyday for his job.

 

I think the UFC knows Askren is extremely marketable. He'd be Chael Sonnen 2.0. Sonnen is not the most exciting fighter, but he's one of their most marketable fighters because of his mouth. Askren would be just as legendary outside the octagon.

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Agreed on Sonnen being in the fights that he's been in due to his mouth, but Sonnen can at least GnP. Ben frantically chases his opponent until he can grab onto him, gets the takedown, and looks like he's content monkey bumping guys for a decision. That really does blow to watch for an extended period of time.

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Funny how Dana White loves joe Lauzon who gets knock in the face 100 times a fight with blood pouring out, as a fighter he has average skills and is promoted huge by Dana White..But this kid is killing himself to fight a style that does him no good, it pays his bills but hes gonna have a hard time writing his name in a few years..Guys like Askren win and thats the goal to win..The old Grazie wasnt exciting boring most times..if no action on the ground stand them up more often..Or round one will be on your feet no ground and pound only if you knock him down you can jump on him other than that rd 1 is on your feet after rd one its whatever!

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Askren vs the winner of GSP/Hendricks would be great. I could see that happening in April or May of next year. Either of them would be a great fight with Askren. GSP because well he's GSP and Hendricks because of the wrestling rivalry. If Askren managed to win that fight...well.....he'd probably say that now that he's won he can buy his way out of anything and tell us he's above the law now. :D

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