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Bellator Would Let Welterweight Champion Ben Askren Walk, If UFC Grants Immediate Title Shot

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Former Bellator Champ Ben Askren Joins Evolve MMA Fight Team, Spurring One FC Rumors
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Former Bellator Champ Ben Askren Joins Evolve MMA Fight Team, Spurring One FC Rumors

Undefeated Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren fulfilled the final fight of his current contract with his fourth-round TKO stoppage of Andrey Koreshkov in July.

He has since taken aim squarely at UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre.

In order to make that fight happen, Askren would have to sign with the UFC, who doesn’t like to do cross-promotional fights.

But even if the UFC would sign Askren, the champ’s current employer, Bellator, has the right to match any offer he receives until the end of July in 2014.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, however, recently told ESPN that he wants to see Askren fight St-Pierre as well, and would even go so far as to grant his champion an immediate release from the matching period in his contract to make it happen.

That is if, and only if, the UFC would grant Askren an immediate title shot.

“Give him a title fight out of the box, which is not unreasonable given that he's ranked in the top six in the world, and I'll just walk away from our matching rights,” Rebney told ESPN.

That would be just fine by Askren, of course, but he knows that it could be a long shot to coax the UFC into an immediate title shot, and is under know false impressions if they don’t want to do that.

“Bjorn is saying if they give me a title shot, no matching rights,” said Askren. “He's not saying if they give me a contract there's no matching rights. If the UFC says, hey, no title shot, then all this is for nothing. I'd have to go back to the drawing board and talk to Bellator. See what their offer will be. See what's going on. And at that point see what's best for me.”

Askren is currently 12-0, having fought all but three of his fights under the Bellator banner. He has been the promotion’s champion since October of 2011 and has run rough shod over everyone Bellator has put in front of him.

Although UFC officials have made initial inquiries to Askren’s management, the fighter told ESPN that there are currently no offers on the table.

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