After weeks of speculation as to where free agent Ben Askren will fight next, we know now it won’t be with Bellator where he was the welterweight champ. If you’ve followed all the drama since Askren’s contract ended, you’re likely not surprised.

Bellator officially announced this AM that Askren is officially an unrestricted agent, and that recent tourney winner Douglas Lima will fight the winner of the Season 9 competition for the welterweight belt, sometime “later this winter.” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was also quoted saying:

“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “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.”

After Askren’s contract ended, Rebney said the promotion likely wouldn’t match any UFC offer that headed the decorated wrestler’s way. UFC boss man Dana White initially stated they were interested in signing Askren; however, no contract offer was ever reported. Eventually it got to the point where Rebney said that if the UFC offered Askren an immediate title shot, Bellator would waive its right to match.

So, now it remains to be seen where Askren winds up. Yes, not everyone is a big fan of his wrestling and grappling heavy approach, but there’s no doubt “Funky” is a world class talent. Perhaps now that White knows he won’t have to deal with Bellator matching any offer, the UFC will come calling?

Stay tuned to Caged for all your Bellator news and coverage.