UFC President Dana White and former ONE and Bellator champ Ben Askren haven’t always had the best relationship. In fact, they’ve seem to outright loathe each other at various points in the past.
Now that Ben Askren is firmly embedded as a member of the UFC welterweight top-15, however, Dana White seems to be changing his tune.
The UFC boss offered Askren some rare praise in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.
“Askren has been fun,” he said. “This guy’s smart, he’s funny, he likes to mix it up with everybody in a fun way, too. So it’s been good. I’m glad he’s here. Timing is everything in life and this was the perfect time for Ben Askren to be in the UFC.”
While Askren will probably be happy to hear these comments from Dana White, he might not like the next matchup White has in mind for him. The UFC boss says he’s working on a rematch between Askren and Robbie Lawler, given that the pair’s UFC 235 bout ended in a controversial first-round submission win for Askren.
“I’m trying to make the [Robbie] Lawler rematch,” White said. “First of all, that fight was awesome, it was fun, it was controversial but it’s the fight to make right now. It’s terrible when that [controversy] happens. That’s the fight we want to make.”
Ben Askren has stated that he’s willing to accept a rematch with Robbie Lawler if need be, though he’s also made it clear that it’s far from his first choice.
“I pass,” Askren said at the UFC 235 post-fight press conference, shortly after his controversial win over Lawler. “I guess we’ll have that discussion. I would like to fight the winner of [Darren] Till vs. [Jorge] Masvidal, I think that makes a whole lot of sense where the division is concerned. I didn’t really want to fight Robbie in the first place. The first matchup they offered I said yes. I did that.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/21/2019.