Is Bjorn Rebney bluffing about letting Ben Askren go to the UFC?

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[ads2]Bellator welterweight champion has long been calling out UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre even though he was still under contract with the Bellator promotion. However, the landscape and opportunity for Askren to make that fight a reality could come to fruition according to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney:

“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.

If Ben’s going to go to the UFC, we should speed up that process so he can go fight. I’d love to see Ben versus GSP.”

Askren finished out his Bellator contract with a TKO win over Audrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97 last month with Bellator choosing not to negotiate with Askren prior him finishing his contract, unlike their lightweight champion Michael Chandler.

Rebney elaborated a bit more on their reasoning for choosing not to immediate re-sign their champion:

“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.”

The latter is a bit of a slight against Askren who has a wrestling/grappling based style which isn’t the most exciting to be honest. However, he’s extremely effective with it as he has 12 wins against zero losses, finishing six of those opponents via TKO and/or submission. It should be noted that he hasn’t faced a single top 10 welterweight in his career since they are all in the UFC.

However, I think the real reasoning behind Rebney’s choice to move cautiously hinges on how their situation with former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez went down. Alvarez ultimately re-signed with Bellator last week, but was able to get a better deal from Bellator, much in large part because of what the UFC offered him during a period in which he could field offers from the UFC.

Bellator’s in a catch 22 situation with their fighters. Fighters like Askren has little to no appeal when it comes to name recognition even though he’s a very solid fighter. The UFC could offer him more money than Bellator would be willing to pay initially, with Bellator having the option to match the offer. If Bellator were to match the offer they would be paying Askren way over his market value from a Bellator standpoint. If they choose to not re-sign Askren, they basically let a guy that has steamrolled their welterweights goto the UFC and potentially lose his first fight a’la Hector Lombard. That would make their division look worse than it already does, not to mention the message it would send to their current fighters. It would paint Bellator like a regional promotion with fighters trying to get enough wins to just move on over to the UFC.

That doesn’t sound like a promotion that’s gunning for the number one spot does it?

Now, on the flip side of things, Rebney could certainly be bluffing regarding allowing Askren to goto the UFC. He could be taking the public stance he’s taking to hopefully influence the UFC to give Askren a smaller offer. After all, why would the UFC want to give a fighter like Askren a ton of money if Bellator doesn’t want him anyway huh? If the UFC were to throw some cash that would be in the neighborhood of what Bellator thought Askren was worth, I would almost guarantee that they would re-sign him.

Stay tuned to ProMMAnow.com for more on this story as it develops.

HT: ESPN

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