Here’s something you don’t see everyday – Bellator’s Bjorn Rebney has just released their long-time welterweight champion Ben Askren, essentially for being a ‘one-trick pony’.
“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” Rebney said of the decorated wrestler. “I had a number of discussions with Ben, and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions.”
That different direction could potentially mean the UFC, and Rebney has indicated that there’ll be no strings attached if that’s where he wants to go.
“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.”
With a perfect 12-0 record and four successful title defenses under his belt, Askren certainly has the credentials to join the UFC, but so far the promotion hasn’t been in a rush to snap him up.
It may well be that they are also wary of bringing on-board a fighter who’s wrestle-heavy style has been labelled by many fans as “boring.” After all, they were all too eager to find an excuse to release other fighters in a similar mold on their own roster recently, such as Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami.
At least they waited until the aforementioned fighters were actually defeated before giving them the boot though, and didn’t come right out and declare that it was due to their one-dimensional approach to fighting.
The fact that Bellator have done so even though Askren was still their undefeated champion doesn’t reflect well on them at all. No doubt Askren was making life difficult for them behind the scenes – he has his heart set on a move to the UFC – but even so, the situation doesn’t seem to have been handled very professionally.
As for where Askren will eventually end up – a move to the UFC might still happen, but don’t be surprised if he has to settle for somewhere like the World Series Of Fighting instead where both Fitch and Okami now ply their trade.