While UFC president Dana White met with former Bellator MMA champion Ben Askren this week as planned, it appears he is remaining steadfast in his position that Askren has not proved himself enough to belong in the UFC. White stood by his earlier suggestion that the former Bellator MMA welterweight champion should sign with the World Series of Fighting in an interview with MMAJunkie.
“I wasn’t even going to say this, because it sounds like I’m just s—ting on them, but there’s just no competition for him over at Bellator,” White told MMAjunkie. “There’s competition for him at World Series of Fighting. This kid will probably sign with them. I don’t know (since) they’ve got to come to an agreement and a deal. But if he does, there’s actual competition for him there.”
White also took another shot at Bellator MMA’s level of competition and Askren’s consensus top ten ranking by nearly all media outlets later in the interview, stating:
“There’s actual competition for him there,” White said. “I think it’s crazy that he’s ranked in the top 10. He hasn’t fought anybody and has no challenges. The best thing that could’ve ever happened to that kid was leaving Bellator. Now he has the opportunity to go to World Series of Fighting and show what he’s got.”
White’s comments about Askren’s past level of competition seem to ring a bit hollow considering that four of Askren’s twelve victories have come against former UFC fighters. It also bears noting that one of Askren’s most dominant victories came against Douglas Lima, who holds a victory against current WSOF champion Steve Carl and multiple wins over UFC veteran Ben Saunders.
The more likely reason for the UFC president’s shunning of Askren rests with the former Olympian’s dominant ground attack that stifles his opponents’ offense. White has made no secret of the fact that he hates fighters that rely on heavy wrestling attacks, which only reinforces the belief that competition has little to do with White’s opinion on Askren.
The former Olympian remains a free agent after Bellator MMA ceded their matching rights and broke off negotiations earlier this month.