Earlier this month, Bellator MMA relinquished the rights to its welterweight titleholder Ben Askren. Askren had finished the final fight on his contract with the promotion and his style and attitude led Bellator to let him walk. Despite that, he is currently ranked number five in the world in the weight class. As Bellator promoter Bjorn Rebney described him, he is extremely one dimensional, but also dominant in the wrestling aspect. This begs the question: How would he fare in the UFC? Askren’s free agency has been met with disdain by UFC President Dana White, who stated that Bellator and Askren were playing games. Askren may not get the offer he wants from the UFC at this point, because they really and truly don’t need him. But let’s say he does enter the UFC’s loaded 170 lb weight class. Let’s consider the possibilities, as I wouldn’t put it past White to bring Askren in an attempt to make an example of him. First of all, UFC did the right thing by ignoring Rebney’s call for a title shot for Askren. Dana might choose to sign him to a tough fight and make it the final preliminary, not even offering him a spot on the main card. Perhaps a match with another ‘fallen from grace’ blanket grappler like Jake Shields will help see what Askren can do. Shields has a very different game than Askren, but he stifles his opposition and he would perhaps bring the best out of the “Funky” fighter. If Askren can only win by grappling, cut Shields contract and leave Askren in the middle of the pack to work his way up. If Askren does something impressive, then he can move up in the division. After that, things should get harder for Askren. If he wants a step up fight, perhaps Carlos Condit or Rory MacDonald can do the honors. A match with a solid wrestler like a Jake Ellenberger would also be intriguing, as it isn’t necessary to be as good a technical a wrestler as Askren for the fight, but it will be necessary to have some level of wrestling in order to make him work. Perhaps with the status of champion Georges St Pierre in doubt, a match against top contender and former wrestling rival Johny Hendricks would be doable. If Askren were to fight the likes of Shields, Ellenberger, Condit, MacDonald and Hendricks, he could very well come out of it with a 2-3 record against some stiff competition. That would certainly boost UFC’s status over Bellator without ever even having to mention the rival promotion’s name.
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