It has been an eventful weekend in the world of MMA with the trade sending Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship and Ben Askren to the UFC. There was no shortage of outrage and questions stemming from the deal, but now for the fun begins for the MMA community. It’s time to put on our tin foil hats.
Before the deal was completed, Askren took to social media calling out nearly every top contender in the Welterweight division to include Colby Covington, Darren Till, GSP, the Diaz brothers, and even the Lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. While all of these big names make amazing fights for Askren and the hardcore fans, unfortunately these are not likely, yet. If you are reading this, then you likely know who Ben Askren is as well as his accomplishments but much of the casual fan base does not.
A contest against Till or Covington would make little business sense for the UFC due to their stock being at an all time high and that is a dangerous fight for both men. As for the Diaz brothers, there is no telling when or if they want to come back. Nate Diaz was scheduled for a bout against Dustin Poirier at UFC 230 but after Poirier suffered an injury, Diaz was reluctant to fight a replacement. Nick Diaz’ has only two fights dating back to 2013 and has expressed little interest in a return. Most recently, Team Dagestan reported talks of a Nurmagomedov vs. GSP super fight. If this is true, that eliminates the possibility of those fights for now.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there are still options. While Dana White has been reluctant to open a 165 pound division, it makes sense now more than ever with Askren. He has stated numerous times that he will not fight his teammate, Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight championship. Assuming Dana doesn’t change his mind, there are still great fights at 170. Jorge Masvidal stated recently that he is open to any fight at 155 or 170, as long as it is a big name. Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman are scheduled for November 30th bout. It would make sense for Askren to fight the winner of that bout to build his name for the unfamiliar fans. Mike Perry has also taken to social media slamming Askren’s “boring” fighting style. While Perry is not ranked in the top 15, the trash talking would certainly build interest.
Askren could certainly land a huge fight but his past contensious relationship with Dana White indicates the UFC will not make this a priority. The immediate future of “Funky” is unknown but I’m sure in the long run, he will earn UFC gold and a number of high profile fights.