The MMA fandom are all too aware of the bad blood between Dana White and Ben Askren. It is one of the sport’s tragedies that Askren, the best welterweight outside of the UFC, has been excluded from the big league on personal grounds.
For those unaware of Askren’s credentials, he is easily one of the best 170 pound fighters in the world. He has held the welterweight championship of the world in Bellator and ONE respectively.
Askren’s record, unblemished other than a no contest, includea wins over Andrey Koreshkov and Douglas Lima. The aforementioned fighters also went on to be known as two of the best welterweights around.
Askren retired as ONE’s champion and the face of the promotion in 2017. However, since his retirement bow against Shinya Aoki, Askren has flirted with the idea of a comeback.
However, he would only return for a big name, specifically all-time great, Georges St-Pierre. Askren has also traded social media barbs with Rory MacDonald, the new owner of the Bellator strap.
With that said, Askren may not need to settle for his previous stomping ground. A move to the UFC could be on the horizon, albeit distant.
Dana White appeared on the UFC: Unfiltered podcast on Tuesday. White suggested that the situation has taken a turn as he spoke to Askren on the phone and is interested in negotiating with him.
White noted that he cannot begin talks with Askren until he is a free agent. At the moment, he is still under contract with ONE. The UFC president noted that Askren must fulfill his contract negotiations and be released from the rival organisation before talks can begin.
Reading between the lines, it seems he retired with fights left on his contract. Once you retire, your contract is effectively frozen, you do not have to fulfill these obligations unless you become an active fighter again.
This is big news for the sport, it means that ‘The Funkmaster’ wants to return to action. What’s more, he may fight for ONE again before joining the UFC for some huge superfights.