On Thursday, in the first media event for the promotion of UFC On Fox 9, newly crowned Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis appeared at the press conference for the event. While discussing his fellow Roufusport teammates, Pettis dropped the news that undefeated Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren has been mulling over the possibility of retirement.
In Pettis' own words (transcribed by Bleacher Report):
"One guy who is on the main stage, ready, is Ben Askren. He's stuck between Bellator and the UFC, thinking about retiring. He's one of the best guys I've ever trained with...I don't want to see him get lost between organizations."
Pettis didn't give any further details about Askren's particular situation. However, the former Olympian is in a similar spot to what fellow Bellator veteran Eddie Alvarez was in last year. Askren finished the final fight on his Bellator contract when he TKO'd Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97 in July. He chose not to renew with the promotion but is still obligated to an exclusive negotiation period as well as a matching period where Bellator retains the right to match any contract Askren may receive.
As they did with Alvarez, Bellator chose to waive their exclusive negotiation period and allow Askren to find his market value. Since then, nothing has come up regarding whether or not Askren chose to pursue other offers or not. Even with Bellator waiving the exclusive negotiation period, "Funky" has the option to simply wait out the the matching period in order to avoid Bellator employing those rights.
Hours after the press conference, Askren took to Twitter to say he's not ready to retire:
While wrestling fans will be happy Askren's not retiring, this statement obviously doesn't answer all the questions. It's clear that Askren is pursuing an offer from the UFC, but it's hard to tell how far along those negotiations are. Based on the limited information available, I'd say Askren is in talks with the UFC and most likely working on more definitive terms than were put forth for Alvarez, as the non-guaranteed PPV compensation was one of the biggest points of contention in their dispute. Bloody Elbow will keep you up to date on Askren's fate as more information becomes available.