Just a few weeks ago, the UFC and ONE Championship did something no one thought was possible. They agreed to a trade that sent Demetrious Johnson to ONE and Ben Askren to the UFC. However, before that trade happened, ONE Championship reached out to Bellator to see if they would co-promote with them in a deal that would see Askren back in his old home of Bellator.
Bellator president Scott Coker was speaking on The Fight Guys podcast where he revealed the news.
“Well listen, we were approached by ONE FC about doing a co-promotion of some kind with Ben Askren. I told [ONE CEO] Chatri [Sityodtong] the issue really is that we just announced our tournament and we announced all eight fighters. There was a conversation between Ben Askren’s manager and ONE FC about getting Ben into our tournament.
Ben wanted to fight one or two more times then he wanted to retire. Or not fight anymore and go back to retirement. So we moved on. We booked all our fighters and we feel really good about this tournament. It is eight of the top welterweights on the planet.
Then I got an e-mail from Chatri that said ‘hey, do you think there is some type of co-promotion you could do with Ben?’ I said to him, ‘unfortunately it is a timing issue because we would do it, we aren’t opposed to it, it is just that now we already launched our tournament and identified the eight athletes,’ It is going to be a year-long tournament so even if I signed Ben, he wouldn’t fight any of the top eight guys for the next 12 months. We just couldn’t work it out.”
If the timing was right, the Johnson for Askren trade would have never come to fruition. While Askren would be fighting in Bellator’s welterweight Grand Prix which features fighters like Rory MacDonald, Douglas Lima, Michael ‘Venom’ Page, Jon Fitch and more.
It truly would have ended up changing a lot of things in MMA. If Johnson does not go to ONE, does the UFC still close the flyweight division down? Does TJ Dillashaw go down and fight Henry Cejudo for the belt? Ultimately, it would have caused several more questions and created another ‘what if’ scenario for the MMA world.
If Askren was in Bellator’s tournament, do you think he would have won it?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/9/2018.