Ben Askren Explains How The UFC Made Him An Offer, But Then Took It Away
Ben Askren is widely regarded as the best fighter to have never fought in the UFC and today, he explained exactly why he’s never stepped foot inside the UFC Octagon.
Speaking on the JRE MMA Show, Askren started off by explaining the circumstances prior to his release
“So when I was 12-0, I had my last fight in Bellator against Andrey Koreshkov on July 30, maybe 31, of 2013 and I beat him up pretty good,” Askren said. “I had a 12-month matching period, so what was expressed to me by the UFC brass was that you need to get out of your matching clause and we will make you an offer, but, we won’t make you an offer until that happens.”
“So I called Bjorn and I said ‘Hey Bjorn, I’m not going to resign [let me go]. Bjorn had a terrible reputation, but I never had a problem with him, we never butted heads too bad. Anyway, I said Bjorn, I don’t want to come back, but people say that they didn’t want me back, but that’s not true at all, but every day, I was like ‘Bjorn let me go, Bjorn let me go,’ and I love challenges. There’s nothing more in the world that I love than a challenge. Go through my wrestling career, it’s what I’m all about, taking the next best single thing every time. So all this time, Dana and the UFC are saying ‘We want Ben Askren. We want Ben Askren.’ I’m ranked number 7 in the world and 12-0 and so, I was going to the Asian store because I was going to make some Tom Kah soup and Bjorn called me and said ‘You’re released. You’re released, you can go.’ I said, ‘I appreciate that.'”
Having got his release, Askren got his manager straight onto the UFC to get things moving.
“So Friday morning I go, it’s in November some time, mid-November,” Askren said. “So they fax over the release and my manager faxes it over to UFC headquarters and in the afternoon, there’s a [media] scrum where one of the questions [asked about me] and Dana said ‘we aren’t interested in Ben Askren,’ and I was like wait, what’s just happened there because for the last three months they were saying they were interested. Now I finally produce this full release from Bellator which was a miracle that I got, and now they aren’t interested. So I was like, wow, I just got caught in the middle of this.”
Having heard the news that the UFC was no longer interested in him, Askren took matters into his own hands and headed to Las Vegas to meet with them.
“I was like f’ that [and] I bought a plane ticket to Vegas for Monday,” Askren said. “I was like f*** that. I’m not taking this s***, I’m going to Vegas. So on the Monday, I fly out to Las Vegas to the UFC headquarters and I sit with Lorenzo and Dana is on the speakerphone. They offered me a Zuffa contract, but it would be confidential and that I would have to fight one fight for World Series Of Fighting, which was like, that’s bizarre. I think the old relationship between the old WSOF and UFC was pretty hazy, but people went the other way right. Like Andrei Arlovski got dropped into World Series, Anthony Johnson, boom, all these people.
“So they said one fight in WSOF and Zuffa will pay you, but you do one fight. So that was f’d up, but OK. I don’t think they thought I was going to go for it, but I said I’d do it. So I leave, and about six hours later and I got a phone call saying that deal is no longer available, we aren’t’ going to make you an offer. So, wow.”
Askren then explained why he thinks White doesn’t like him.
“Here’s my guess and I never got to sit face-to-face and say what was your problem with me,” Askren said. There are four things in my mind. Number one, he didn’t really like me, stemming from the, I called him out on the steroid thing where he said it’s impossible to test all UFC athletes. I said that’s not true because USADA does it all over the world for all sorts of sports. You can do it, but it’s just expensive [so] let’s just call it what it is. They do it now and I was correct, but when Dana is wrong in an argument, and he’s got this huge army that following him and I think his quote was, ‘I’d rather watch flys f*** than Ben Asken fight.” So the personal attacks started and that’s number one.
“Number two, my fight with Jay (Hieron) wasn’t highly attractive,” Askren said. “I also think that’s a little bit if fake news because if you look at Georges St-Pierre’s, consistently, now McGregor has trumped him, but if you look on a consistent basis Georges has been the biggest draw. He heavily relied upon takedowns and ground and pound.”
“Three I think they wanted to take a key piece from Bellator. Four, I think they really believed I could be their champion and having a champion from Bellator transition right into the UFC and become champion, remember Bellator was going to Spike around now, and Bellator could’ve used that to say they’re the same.”
Despite all the water under the bridge, Askren said he’d still like to sit down with White and discuss why the deal put on the table back in 2013 was taken away.
“I’ve never had the chance to sit down with Dana and ask why there was no offer,” Askren said. “You know when like Anthony Pettis was the champ and I’m helping coach him and I think Tyron was, I’ve never had more than five words with Dana in passing right and so it would be really interesting for me to sit down and talk and say ‘tell me for real.’ I’ve got my assumptions on what the deal was, but I don’t really know.
“If I had to have number five, I think he got the idea that I’d never be a ‘yes man’. I’m not going to be, I’m never going to be. He likes the ‘yes man’ champion. He’s got some heat with Tyron, he’s got some heat with Stipe as we saw on Saturday night. Dana really struggles with the personalities that won’t cater to what he wants to happen.”
Watch the full interview: