UFC 244 was originally expected to be headlined by a welterweight title fight between reigning champion Kamaru Usman and top contender Colby Covington. Unfortunately, negotiations for this fight ultimately hit a snag, and the fight was never made official. Welterweight contender Ben Askren believes that’s because both Usman and Covington made the same mistake: the both assumed they have more popularity — and therefor more bargaining power — than they actually do.
Askren shared this opinion, which will surely generate some backlash from Usman and Covington, on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday.
“These guys are idiots,” he said. “It’s not the first time I’ve told you they were idiots, and you guys should have listened to me before. I mean holy crap. These guys Covington and Kamaru can’t get it right — I called him Kamaru, his name is Marty, what am I talk about here? They can’t get it right! This is not from the UFC. This is my take, what I heard happened:
“Colby Covington says ‘I want a whole bunch of money,'” Askren continued. “Colby, you’re not worth that much money. I’m all about fighters’ rights here. I do think MMA fighters as a whole should probably be paid more. But at the same time, unless you’re part of that movement, you have to deal with yourself individually — one versus the UFC. So Colby shoots it way out of the ballpark, they say ‘yeah right dude, get lost. You’re not worth close to that much.’ He is not nearly as popular as you think. So [the UFC says] ‘Colby, get lost. We’re bringing in Jorge [Masvidal to fight Usman].’ Then Marty says ‘well if I’m fighting Jorge, I want more money!’ And they said ‘what? Nobody gives a damn about watching you fight, Marty. Get out of here!’ Then they made Jorge and Nate [Diaz] the main event, which people are excited for.”
What do you think of this take from Ben Askren? How do you think Covington and Usman will respond?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/16/2019.