At the UFC 235 press conference, former ONE and Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren divulged that he and top welterweight contender Kamaru Usman very nearly came to blows backstage.
Days after the press conference wrapped up, Will Harris of Anatomy of a Fighter released footage of this backstage confrontation.
Speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday, Ben Askren burned Kamaru Usman — who he calls “Marty” — in a fiery rant, criticizing the upcoming welterweight title challenger for confronting him backstage and for releasing video of the encounter after the fact.
“Can you believe Marty put this video out?” Askren said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “This video makes him look like a dumb-dumb and it was his camera person that put it out! He is bragging about this and this is what I can’t stand about fighters. Listen, we get that you’re tough. You fight in a cage. I understand that perfectly, but he has to come up to me, [when] you know nothing is going to happen back there, Marty! Why are you getting in my face? You know you’re not gonna risk your main event shot by punching me in the back hallway.
“Give me a freaking break. I couldn’t fathom why he was trying to act so tough and what he was trying to do or get out of the situation. If it was intimidation, that’s freakin’ laughable. . . Look at his skinny jeans! You can’t be acting tough when you’re in white skinny jeans and a scarf.
“He wasn’t gonna do nothing because that’s not who he is. He wants to act like he’s this crazy, insane tough guy but I knew him from before and he’s not. He’s smart, he’s reasonable and for whatever reason this is the persona that he wants to play, that’s he’s this tough, crazy guy who will fight anyone at anytime. It’s just silly and ridiculous. At no point was he ever threatening me.”
Needless to say, Ben Askren feels that he’s under his rival’s skin.
“I am under your skin so bad that I say one thing – I said, ‘Am I sitting next to Marty?’ and he got all pissed,” Askren said. “And the funny thing is, he’s not even like, ‘Marty’s not my name, don’t call me Marty.’ . . He’s not even denying that Marty is his name so I don’t even know what he’s mad about! What is he mad about? I’m so far under his skin and so far in his head it’s not even funny.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/5/2019.