Former Bellator welterweight champion and current ONE FC welterweight titleholder Ben Askren is undefeated in mixed martial arts. Despite his success in MMA, the two-time NCAA wrestling national champion and Olympian has had a tough time being accepted based on his fighting style.
After defending his Bellator title four times, he was released by the organization in 2013. UFC president Dana White said the UFC had “no interest” in signing Askren at that time, but his stance may slowly be changing.
“As far as the kid, as far as the level he’s on? He barely beat Jay Hieron, you know? He’s got some work to do. He can fight in another organization and work his way up and go from there,” said White following the UFC 167 post-fight press conference in November 2013.
Since the UFC passed on the opportunity to sign Askren when he was a free agent, Askren has been critical of the organization and its president, regularly voicing his criticisms via Twitter.
After his Bellator release, Askren signed with ONE FC and captured their 170-pound title on Aug. 29. While White’s not exactly ready to make Askren an offer, the 30-year-old athlete is certainly on the UFC’s radar.
“Yeah, if he keeps winning. You know, he could get a shot over here,” said White following UFC 177 on Aug. 30.
“Ben Askren said a lot of stupid (expletive) when he left, but I could care less about any of that. We’ll see what the kid keeps doing and we’ll go from there,” said White.
“If you’re a real idiot, I’ll hold a grudge until the day I drop dead. But I don’t really do that with fighters. They’re tough guys. This is what they do for a living. They’re going to say stuff like that. If Tito Ortiz could come back to the UFC, anybody can come in here. Because there’s nobody on Earth I hated worse than Tito and Tito came back. Don’t have to like them to do business with them,” added the UFC president.