Wednesday night at Bellator 97, Welterweight Ben Askren picked up his fourth title defense against challenger Andrey Koreshkov, After 18 minutes of domination, Askren stopped Koreshkov in the fourth round. The win marked his second stoppage as a Bellator fighter and the last fight on his contract.
Chad Cooper, who covered the event and interviewed Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney after the show reported it first on Twitter:
Ben Askren has zero fights left under current Bellator contract...— Chad Cooper (@thechadcooper) August 1, 2013
The fact that Askren has come to the end of his contract is very telling. It's common in MMA for promotions to renegotiate contracts prior to the final fight on the contract. So, it would seem either Bellator didn't offer enough in previous negotiations or Askren didn't care what they had to offer.
While it's still very possible that Askren chooses to re-sign with Bellator of his own accord, it will be interesting to see if he learns from the mistakes of former Bellator Lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. Alvarez is currently involved in a lawsuit over "matching rights" that's not likely to resolve until late-2014 unless he decides to settle. If Askren tries to get out of Bellator without waiting out the matching period, he could find himself in a similar situation.