UFC legend Georges St-Pierre may have recently dismissed the prospect of fighting former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight king Ben Askren. ‘Funky,’ on the other hand, is not quite as willing to give up on the fight he wants the most.
From the perspective of many MMA fans, Askren’s failure to light up the Octagon has been disappointing.
Although it had looked nailed-on that the unbeaten wrestling machine would join the UFC all the way back in 2013, it was not to be for the Wisconsin-native. Citing critical differences with the promotion’s president, Dana White, Askren would instead go on to sign with Asia’s ONE Championship shortly after initial talks with the UFC had broken down.
Despite his history with White, and St-Pierre’s indifference when it comes to the prospect of a bout, Askren still argues that he is more than worthy of a super fight. The 33-year-old appeared on Monday’s episode of the MMAHour with Ariel Helwani to explain why:
“The UFC marketing machine is set up for one thing, and the one thing they market is the stand-and-bang fighters,” Askren said (transcription via MMAMania.com). “And they fail to have any recognition of how to market someone who doesn’t fit in that little profile. For me vs ‘GSP,’ if you learn to market me the right way, I am undefeated, I am an Olympian, I’m a damn American hero. I will sell a million pay-per-views if you learn to market me the right way.”
St-Pierre had told Helwani on last week’s episode of the same show that he is not exactly interested in meeting Askren inside the Octagon:
“Ben Askren, I don’t understand why he’s not in UFC, because he’s one of the best welterweights in the world. I think it has to do with maybe a problem that he has with Dana White, but he’s one of the best fighters in the world. And if there’s a guy that in my career, for my legacy, that would have been good to fight, it would have been Ben Askren, because he beat everybody.
“He beat all the guys in Bellator. He beat all the champions outside of the UFC,” St-Pierre said. “But unfortunately, I think he had a fallout with Dana and he never had the chance to fight in the UFC. And therefore, his stock never went to the value that it’s supposed to be at.”
Askren, on the contrary, believes that this is a fight that the fans want to see, and is confident that it would shift big units:
“I have been on record saying I will go to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2019, I will beat up ‘GSP,’ and I will have 20,000 Canadians booing me and it will be a fantastic site to see. Absolutely, yes,” he added. “In 2019, I will fight Georges St-Pierre at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada it’s going to be sold out and we will make a lot of money.”
St-Pierre believes that Askren’s low profile would, unfortunately, rule him out as a worthy opponent:
“(Askren) is a guy who’s extremely, extremely talented, a very dangerous guy, but nobody knows who he is because he’s never been exposed to the public. But he’s very good. In order to have a fight with me, I would have liked him to be exposed to the public so his stock goes up, so if I fight him, at least it’s a win-win situation,” St-Pierre said.
“Otherwise, you fight a guy who’s extremely dangerous, who nobody cares about, who nobody knows who he is. It’s sad, but that’s the real way to look at it. And the reason why I’m saying that in your interview now is because I want people to be aware of who he is, I want him to have a chance to fight in the UFC, to go fight against the big dogs, the big boys of the sport, and I think he is certainly in the top five, maybe the top three in the welterweight division.”
Askren recently announced that he would be retiring, yet has insisted that he would still be open to certain fights:
“There is one possibility for a reason that I would come back, to prove I am number one, that’s it,” Askren said recently. “What would motivate me is not the money, but the number one spot.”
St-Pierre believes Askren would not warrant the required attention that would sell a fight:
“It’s not a fight that would interest me now because nobody knows who he is. Nobody knows who he is, but if they would have given him the chance to fight, to show his skill in the UFC, I’m sure he would have,” said St-Pierre.