Unbeaten former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren claims that he never explicitly said that he was retiring from MMA
Askren spoke to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour and claimed that he will walk away from the sport unless he can land a fight with the number one fighter on the planet:
“I’ve never said I’m retired, period,” Askren said. “I’ve said that I’m retired with the caveat that if I somehow get to fight to prove that I’m No. 1 in the world, I will take that opportunity. I’m not gonna fight to be No. 3 or 5 or 7 or anything else. Just to be No. 1, that’s it. It’s not really a money thing, it’s a pride thing.”
With no desire to fight UFC welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, Bellator’s 170-pound champion Douglas Lima or Rory MacDonald, Askren may very well look to exit the game while on top. One name he has brought up regularly over the past few days, UFC middleweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, would certainly keep him interested.
One of the major obstacles Askren must overcome in order to land that fight involves being signed by the UFC. Despite having a well-documented discussion with UFC President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta regarding a switch to the promotion in 2013, Askren was allegedly told by White to instead move to World Series of Fighting and “show what he’s got.”
“I think there was three or four different reasons that kind of compounded on top of each other why they made that decision,” Askren said. “At the end of the day, I left Vegas without an offer.”
“There’s a lot of things coming down the pipe that could make this happen,” Askren said. “Obviously the biggest one being the Ali Act, that could be a big deal. And there’s some other things coming down the pipe that could make this more realistic than it may seem today. … I can’t play all my cards.”