Red Rover, Red Rover, send Askren right over. It's the thought that goes through my head every time a fighter leaves from one of the top two MMA promotions in the world to go to the other side. The UFC and Bellator have been engaged in an unintentional fighter exchange plan for years, and despite assertions from both sides about the other, they often find themselves opening their wallets to the opposing team's talent pool.
Bellator CEO, Bjorn Rebney, has stated that his company has no interest in UFC castoffs, yet holds a variety of contracts of former Zuffa personnel. Dana White, the always vocal president of the UFC, consistently throws razor sharp barbs at number two organization, Bellator, with a consistency that can almost be timed to the minute, but has never been shy about dangling fat carrots laced with cash heavy contracts in front of Bellator's gold level talent.
Hector Lombard is a prime example of that, and had things gone according to plan, Eddie Alvarez would have already been a known commodity inside the octagon, but that endeavor has largely been a bust. White's latest, a zinger declaring that his fight vlogs scored more viewer hits than Bellator's reality series, came directly before the interest he expressed in having Bellator's super dominant welterweight champion, Ben Askren, join the UFC's ever changing roster. In kind, Askren has reciprocated that interest.
Now, we get to the interesting part of the situation. Rebney, in either the most sneaky, slick and calculated move, or the most deprecating, insulting one, has stated that he really has no interest in re-signing Askren. That's right, Bellator's president publicly stated that Askren can hit the road if he wants to. That is either a slick maneuver of the chess pieces, similar to the one they used on Eddie Alvarez - remember, they told Alvarez virtually the same thing -or it's going to end up being a deal for a champion that might just be at a bargain basement price. In a recent interview with ESPN's Josh Gross, Bjorn Rebney discussed Ben Askren's contract.
"I don't think we're going to make an offer at this point," Bjorn Rebney, Bellator MMA chairman and CEO, told ESPN.com. "So I don't see any reason to make anybody sit out.
The possibilities in the UFC are endless, but for all of you fans of exciting fights and real, edge of your seat slobberknockers, Askren vs. St. Pierre could actually happen. Rebney even stated that he'd be interested in seeing that particular match-up, however, true to form, he also left this little particle wafting in the air,
"If the UFC does make an offer, we'll take a look at it and move on from there," Rebney said. "We haven't been proactive yet. I have nothing but good things to say about Ben as a fighter, but we're all very aware of how he fights and what he does -- it's not for everyone."
What say you, fine readers of this establishment? Would you like to see Funky Ben in the UFC, or would you prefer he stay on with Bellator?