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Ben Askren: I can prove how good I am without fighting Tyron Woodley

Ben Askren is willing to take another route to greatness, if it means not ever facing teammate Tyron Woodley.

In an unprecedented turn of events, the UFC engaged in its first-ever “trade” with another promotional company. Former UFC 125-pound champion and top pound-for-pound fighter Demetrious Johnson is now headed to the far east to compete under the ONE Championship banner, as Ben Askren signs with the UFC.

UFC president Dana White already stated that the undefeated welterweight would be matched up with a top five opponent in his debut. Askren did send out a warning to the entire 170-pound division, but at the same time, he shut out the possibility of fighting his Roufusport teammate and division champion Tyron Woodley.

“Me and Tyron aren’t fighting, it’s simple. We are not fighting. We are not fighting — no,” Askren said Monday on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting).

“I think there’s a lot of scenarios in which I get to prove how good I am and we don’t fight. They could create the 165, 175 [divisions]. I think that’s a possibility. It’s almost like the UFC is pushing back a little bit despite how much all the fighters realize it would be beneficial to us. If it were up to the fighters, they’d probably create that division tomorrow, right?”

The feeling, apparently, is mutual. Woodley recently expressed the same sentiment in his own TMZ segment “The Hollywood Beatdown.”

“That’s my homie,” Woodley said when asked if he would ever fight Askren. “My homie, my teammate. He’s my wrestling coach.”

“So my wrestling coach (would be) the person that would train me to fight him? We might as well do a training camp together. Because there’s no other way for me to mimic that style besides to actually go with him.”

The 34-year-old Askren last competed in November 2017, where he defeated Shinya Aoki via first-round TKO.