If Ben Askren is indeed close to punching his ticket to the UFC, he seems to have some ideas on the game plan for at least one potential opponent.
Askren (12-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA), Bellator’s unbeaten welterweight champion, currently is a prized free agent who is believed to be close to some resolution in terms of where he’ll fight next. The two likeliest scenarios involve him signing with the UFC with Bellator electing to let him go, or Bellator matching a potential UFC deal for Askren to stay in the fold.
But if the UFC is where he winds up, like most other MMA welterweights, he’s got his sights set on current champion Georges St-Pierre (), and he hasn’t been shy about what his plan of attack might be – and he may have tipped his hand about where he’ll wind up next.
Earlier this week on his official Twitter account, Askren said he’s got no plans to leave the sport before fighting St-Pierre.
“Not retiring yet, still 1 person I want to beat up,” Askren tweeted at the official accounts of St-Pierre, the UFC and UFC President Dana White.
The four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler continued his brief and mild verbal assault on “GSP” by saying, “Once I figured out GSPs dark place didn’t really exist I knew he would be easy prey!,” alluding to the “dark place” St-Pierre said he would go before a fight with Nick Diaz earlier this year.
The University of Missouri alum admitted, however, that the St-Pierre of several years ago may have been a different challenge for him than the one he believes he’d go up against if they were to meet these days. “GSP in 2009 prob would have beat me, but this current version fights way too scared!”
St-Pierre and Askren both have been criticized for the same thing: not finishing fights. St-Pierre has won six straight title defenses, all fairly convincingly, and all by unanimous decision. He hasn’t finished anyone since a corner stoppage win over B.J. Penn in 2009.
Askren won six straight fights by going the distance, as well. But his most recent two title defenses were TKO stoppages of Karl Amoussou and Andrey Koreshkov.
That said, those who believe Askren is a “lay and pray” artist who merely smothers his opponents on the canvas to grind out decisions haven’t seemed to get under Askren’s skin. He responded to one fan on Twitter by saying the best advice he’d give St-Pierre in terms of wrestling would be to not wrestle him. Then he said he would “lay on GSP for as long as I damn well please.”
Bellator officials on Saturday told MMAjunkie.com there was nothing to update on the news of where Askren stood with the promotion. But this past month, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said even if his current 170-pound champ only has one dimension, it’s one no one has been able to stop. And he thinks that may carry over if he does leave the promotion for the UFC.
“I’ve been a staunch supporter of Ben Askren,” Rebney said. “We can all agree: He’s ridiculously one-dimensional. But the issue with that one dimension is that he’s better at it than anyone on the face of the earth. He’s been dominant inside of our cage. He’s the best wrestler in MMA that we have in this sport. So look, if you don’t like wrestling and you don’t like what Ben does, then stop it. That’s why they call it a fight. Ben famously said up in Canada, ‘If you want to see two guys stand in the middle of the cage and hit each other in the face, there’s a sport called boxing.’ He’s executed beautifully.
“We’ll see what happens with Ben. I don’t know if Ben will be with us, I don’t know if Ben will be with the UFC. But wherever he goes, he will remain dominant and he will remain amazingly effective at the one thing he does better than anybody.”
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(Pictured: Ben Askren)