Undefeated welterweight fighter Ben Askren announced his quasi-retirement last year after successfully defending his ONE FC title against Shinya Aoki at ONE 63: Immortal Pursuit.
But, according to a recent report by Abhinav Kini of International Business Times UK, ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong is interested in having ‘Funky’ do a cross-promotional, champion vs. champion fight with Georges St-Pierre or Rory MacDonald.
According to Sityodtong, ONE FC Vice President of Operations and renowned MMA coach Matt Hume has been in talks with the UFC and Bellator about having Askren fight either St-Pierre or MacDonald, who are both longtime teammates at Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada.
“Yeah, I have an open invitation to do world champion vs world champion fights, ONE Championship vs. UFC any day,” Sityodtong said. “I know Matt Hume has talked to [UFC president] Dana White about Ben Askren fighting in the UFC against GSP [Georges St-Pierre]… I know Matt Hume has talked to [Bellator president] Scott Coker as well and I’ve also spoken to Scott Coker about a potential world champion vs. world champion. Let’s see.”
Askren, the former ONE FC and Bellator welterweight champ, has gone back-and-forth with MacDonald on social media in the past and has always been interested in a superfight with St-Pierre. The 33-year-old talent will only come out of retirement to cement his legacy as the best welterweight fighter of all time.
Bellator’s Scott Coker, however, isn’t interested in having Askren return for only one fight, and it’s unlikely that UFC heads will ever seriously entertain the possibility of Askren fighting St-Pierre, especially with the latest reports of a possible lightweight matchup between ‘Rush’ and Nate Diaz.
This is, however, the age of the money fight and, with the right marketing and promotional strategy, there could be enough interest and buzz to put the wheels in motion for a cross-promotion fight to determine ‘the best welterweight in the world’.