Former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren recently received his controversial release from Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. It was a puzzling move because Askren is an undefeated fighter who has appeared dominant in his tenure with Bellator.
But Rebney labeled him “one-dimensional,” and while that may be true, he still released his champion. UFC President Dana White thought that the move spoke volumes about Bellator, but that doesn’t mean he was necessarily ready to sign Askren to the UFC.
Instead, White said Askren should make his way to World Series of Fighting to prove his worth, telling MMA Junkie:
“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. 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.”
Askren may want to prove that he can hang with the best in the Octagon, but White makes a great point when he says that WSOF does offer some competition for the smothering wrestling ability of Askren.
He could potentially face off with WSOF welterweight champion Steve Carl, former UFC contender Jon Fitch, Josh Burkman, or even newly signed UFC castoff Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares. Askren still has a lot to prove, and fighting any one of those four names would go a long way in showing he deserves to fight in the UFC.
Ray Sefo’s WSOF is a young upstart promotion that is still struggling to find its identity. But thankfully for Askren, their welterweight division has already arrived. If he truly wants to continue fighting in MMA, Askren would do well to listen carefully to any contract offers from the new promotion. Does he have the skills to defeat Carl and Fitch, or will his run in Bellator prove to be the product of fighting substandard talent?