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UnderGround Forums >> Santino DeFranco editorial: Is Askren a pawn?


8/23/13 12:07 AM
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This Underground Blog Guest Editorial was written by TUF, K-1, IFL, and Bodog veteran Santino DeFranco. Santino is also a trainer of note, having worked with Seth Baczynski, Efrain Escudero, Yaotzin Meza, Danny Martinez, and Victor Mez, among many others. He is currently enrolled in the MFA Creative Writing program at Northern Arizona University, and recently finished a novel that is in the final stages of editing.

He asks, is Ben Askren a sacrificial pawn in Dana and Bjorn’s game of chess?

Over the last week or so we’ve heard Dana say that he’s “very interested in Ben Askren,” Bjorn Rebney say he “wasn’t interested in Askren,” and Askren himself publicly state that he wants to fight in the UFC. 

I’m not so sure all three parties are one hundred percent honest in their statements though.  I think Askren is being honest about his desires, as I think he may be under the (false) impression he is more of a blue chip commodity than he may actually be. But we’ll get to his statements after we talk about the real issue here: Bjorn and Dana’s true intentions, and distaste for one another.

Are Dana and Bjorn’s respective statements true, or are they business tricks to try to drive Askren’s price down or leave the other with the hot potato when the buzzer goes off?  Well, I wouldn’t be writing this if I thought former - and Askren might just want to tone down what he says in the media until he is contractually released from Bellator.

Why the sudden change from Dana regarding Askren?  I know he has done this before with fighters not in his organization - he talks about how horrible fighter X is, then as soon as the fighter is a free agent swoops in and signs Mr. X, telling the world how amazing he has been all along.  Dana’s bashing of any and all that is not the UFC is certainly nothing new, but this time it might just be a little different.  Askren isn’t exactly the most exciting fighter, or any type of ratings god, or the most interesting personality.  He is, however, Bellator’s most dominant champion that is coming to the end of his contract.  By Dana publicly stating he’s interested in Askren (he usually doesn’t announce fighter negotiations until they are finalized) that could, theoretically, drive up Bellator’s initial offer to keep their current champ on the roster.  Or, if Bellator chooses not to offer a contract, that could keep the bidding war to a minimum and Dana could pick up Askren much cheaper, and painlessly, as opposed to what we saw in the Eddie Alvarez negotiations debacle. 

As for Bjorn’s statements, it is pretty much the reciprocal.  By Bjorn stating he doesn’t want Askren that, again theoretically, would mean the UFC may come in with a lower offer to Askren.  If the offer is low enough, Bellator may decide to jump on the matching clause and take Askren back as their champion.  If the UFC really does want Askren badly enough and offers him a lucrative contract, Bjorn probably won't match it, and it gets Askren off of Bellator’s hands and makes room for a more exciting champion - maybe the winner of the Fight Master reality show and the next tournament winner?  Either way, Bjorn is hoping to get a win out of going public with his statement as opposed to handling the contract behind closed doors.

That brings us to Ben Askren, who may suffer the most from both presidents publicly talking about him.  It may not have been a wise decision for Askren to go public about wanting to go to the UFC before he actually had the contract signed.  If Bellator does decide to let him go and honestly doesn’t want him and Dana, in turn, offers him a low contract - maybe much lower than what he was hoping for or will accept - Askren might not have any other choice but to take the lowball offer.  If he had kept his mouth closed for a bit longer, he might very well have been in a decent position to negotiate a much higher pay rate. But as of now, it seems that Askren may be the pawn both chess masters are hoping to give up in order to win the game.

Regardless of the outcome, whether the UFC or Bellator signs the upcoming free agent, Askren, it’s just hard to believe that these talks are not some sort of façade that Dana and Bjorn are putting in front of the world to gain a strong position with one another.  


8/23/13 12:11 AM
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Ministry of Truth
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To summarize: Water is wet, and ice is cold.
8/23/13 3:33 AM
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Kostakio
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This was actually one of the better articles I've read on here. A thought-provoking, well-thought-out piece on MMA business. Phone Post 3.0
8/23/13 3:46 AM
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jerdney
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Kostakio - This was actually one of the better articles I've read on here. A thought-provoking, well-thought-out piece on MMA business. Phone Post 3.0
Agreed! Brought up some points I've already thought of, but did it articulately, and presented some points I hadn't thought of! Phone Post
8/23/13 3:48 AM
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MisterHawkeMMA
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Wait... when has Dana said a fighter was garbage and then changed his tune and said that the fighter was awesome after signing him?

I mean, I know it's the cool thing to bash the bald one, but I've been following this sport for a long time and I don't recall any instances of that happening.

With Kimbo, he said he was trash and wouldn't even be able to win TUF, and then gave Kimbo props for actually going on TUF and at least trying to win it instead of ducking the competition.

With Sheilds, Fitch, and Asken he's said that they were boring as shit. But, we all have always known that. That doesn't have anything to do with their ability to win fights.

Even with Fedor and Overeem... he never called them trash, just said that they were being super overrated. And I agreed in both instances that beating Brett Rogers doesn't make you a top 5 HW.
8/23/13 4:20 AM
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Kostakio
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Dana said that Fedor was overrated but also wanted him badly at one point. He then trashed Lombard and eventually signed him. And then there's Barnett.

There may be more but that's all I can think of right now. Phone Post 3.0
8/23/13 4:28 AM
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CindyO
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Kostakio - This was actually one of the better articles I've read on here. A thought-provoking, well-thought-out piece on MMA business. Phone Post 3.0

Because Santino can write his ass off! He did some pieces here before and he's really good.

 

Cindy

8/23/13 6:10 AM
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Rearnakedwaffle
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The picture of Askren makes him look like fuckin' Rocky from the movie Mask
8/23/13 6:52 AM
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truevalon
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Did dana say askren was garbage, or that he was boring? Phone Post
8/23/13 7:45 AM
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JeffersonDArcyChoke
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It really makes no sense for the UFC to pay a premium for Askren.

He won't draw money on PPV.

His style won't change so it is not like he will excite the masses.

Even at a low price it's bad for UFC because if Askren comes in and grapplefucks his way to the title you end up with a champ who isn't marketable yet no one can effectively defeat him.

I think this move is just a fat guy saying he doesn't want anymore pizza so you'll leave that last slice in the box and he can grab it cold for breakfast tomorrow.

Bellator just wants to resign Askren on the cheap and the only way to do this is to force UFC to overpay OR force Askren to take a lowball deal. Phone Post
8/23/13 7:56 AM
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Big Pookie
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Kostakio - Dana said that Fedor was overrated but also wanted him badly at one point. He then trashed Lombard and eventually signed him. And then there's Barnett.

There may be more but that's all I can think of right now. Phone Post 3.0


He also said Reem wasn't a top 10 HW. Then signed him and gave him a #1 contender fight.
8/23/13 8:05 AM
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Frobenius
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Big Pookie - 
Kostakio - Dana said that Fedor was overrated but also wanted him badly at one point. He then trashed Lombard and eventually signed him. And then there's Barnett.

There may be more but that's all I can think of right now. Phone Post 3.0


He also said Reem wasn't a top 10 HW. Then signed him and gave him a #1 contender fight.

Yeah he referred to him as "that guy chuck knocked out years ago?" or something along those lines
8/23/13 8:29 AM
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Kostakio
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haha I forgot about him. I bet there's more too. Phone Post 3.0
8/23/13 9:06 AM
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Authority Figure
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Maybe Ben will end up at WSOF. That was would be tragically hilarious. 

8/23/13 9:15 AM
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Hikikomori
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MisterHawkeMMA - Wait... when has Dana said a fighter was garbage and then changed his tune and said that the fighter was awesome after signing him?

I mean, I know it's the cool thing to bash the bald one, but I've been following this sport for a long time and I don't recall any instances of that happening.

With Kimbo, he said he was trash and wouldn't even be able to win TUF, and then gave Kimbo props for actually going on TUF and at least trying to win it instead of ducking the competition.

With Sheilds, Fitch, and Asken he's said that they were boring as shit. But, we all have always known that. That doesn't have anything to do with their ability to win fights.

Even with Fedor and Overeem... he never called them trash, just said that they were being super overrated. And I agreed in both instances that beating Brett Rogers doesn't make you a top 5 HW.

Roy Nelson.

No one has to make up excuses to bash Dana. Dana's mouth never stops so its easy to call him out on his bullshit.


Carnival Barkers Active!
8/23/13 1:00 PM
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notsobigmike
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Interesting article but it also seems like they are WAY overestimating Askren's importance in the big picture.

I want to see him in the UFC, but frankly, both organizations could make do with our without him just fine.
8/23/13 1:20 PM
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Santino DeFranco
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notsobigmike - Interesting article but it also seems like they are WAY overestimating Askren's importance in the big picture.

I want to see him in the UFC, but frankly, both organizations could make do with our without him just fine.

This is definitely a good point. I don't think either organization is overly excited about signing Askren, but more-so using the possibility of signing him as a power play against the other organization.
8/23/13 1:46 PM
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Santino DeFranco -
notsobigmike - Interesting article but it also seems like they are WAY overestimating Askren's importance in the big picture.

I want to see him in the UFC, but frankly, both organizations could make do with our without him just fine.

This is definitely a good point. I don't think either organization is overly excited about signing Askren, but more-so using the possibility of signing him as a power play against the other organization.
Correct! Phone Post
8/23/13 2:51 PM
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MisterHawkeMMA
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Kostakio - Dana said that Fedor was overrated but also wanted him badly at one point. He then trashed Lombard and eventually signed him. And then there's Barnett.

There may be more but that's all I can think of right now. Phone Post 3.0

Why would thinking that someone is vastly overrated personally stop you from wanting to sign a guy? If anything, I would think you'd be more inclined to sign that person so that you could prove to the world just how right you were.

And like it or not... but in regards to Fedor, Overeem, and Lombard he was on the money each time. Not one of those guys is top 5 in their respective division and at the time that he was telling everyone exactly that, was widely considered to be top top 3.
8/23/13 2:55 PM
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MisterHawkeMMA
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Hikikomori - 
MisterHawkeMMA - Wait... when has Dana said a fighter was garbage and then changed his tune and said that the fighter was awesome after signing him?

I mean, I know it's the cool thing to bash the bald one, but I've been following this sport for a long time and I don't recall any instances of that happening.

With Kimbo, he said he was trash and wouldn't even be able to win TUF, and then gave Kimbo props for actually going on TUF and at least trying to win it instead of ducking the competition.

With Sheilds, Fitch, and Asken he's said that they were boring as shit. But, we all have always known that. That doesn't have anything to do with their ability to win fights.

Even with Fedor and Overeem... he never called them trash, just said that they were being super overrated. And I agreed in both instances that beating Brett Rogers doesn't make you a top 5 HW.

Roy Nelson.

No one has to make up excuses to bash Dana. Dana's mouth never stops so its easy to call him out on his bullshit.


Carnival Barkers Active!

See... this is what I don't get. Dana has always said that Roy Nelson is a good, but not great fighter. That would probably have a chance to be great if he just took his head out of his ass...

Isn't this something we all know at this point? I mean, he's never beat someone that anyone had in their top 5 at the time of the fight.
8/23/13 2:58 PM
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weebrave
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JeffersonDArcyChoke - It really makes no sense for the UFC to pay a premium for Askren.

He won't draw money on PPV.

His style won't change so it is not like he will excite the masses.

Even at a low price it's bad for UFC because if Askren comes in and grapplefucks his way to the title you end up with a champ who isn't marketable yet no one can effectively defeat him.

I think this move is just a fat guy saying he doesn't want anymore pizza so you'll leave that last slice in the box and he can grab it cold for breakfast tomorrow.

Bellator just wants to resign Askren on the cheap and the only way to do this is to force UFC to overpay OR force Askren to take a lowball deal. Phone Post
He is more exciting than gsp and he is a great trash talker Phone Post
8/23/13 3:50 PM
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weebrave -
JeffersonDArcyChoke - It really makes no sense for the UFC to pay a premium for Askren.

He won't draw money on PPV.

His style won't change so it is not like he will excite the masses.

Even at a low price it's bad for UFC because if Askren comes in and grapplefucks his way to the title you end up with a champ who isn't marketable yet no one can effectively defeat him.

I think this move is just a fat guy saying he doesn't want anymore pizza so you'll leave that last slice in the box and he can grab it cold for breakfast tomorrow.

Bellator just wants to resign Askren on the cheap and the only way to do this is to force UFC to overpay OR force Askren to take a lowball deal. Phone Post
He is more exciting than gsp and he is a great trash talker Phone Post
C'mon now. I'll agree that gsp's fights have been less exciting than he was in the past, but to say Ben is more exciting is 'worthy of ridicule' (ridiculous) Phone Post
8/23/13 4:24 PM
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weebrave
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TheGoldenRule -
weebrave -
JeffersonDArcyChoke - It really makes no sense for the UFC to pay a premium for Askren.

He won't draw money on PPV.

His style won't change so it is not like he will excite the masses.

Even at a low price it's bad for UFC because if Askren comes in and grapplefucks his way to the title you end up with a champ who isn't marketable yet no one can effectively defeat him.

I think this move is just a fat guy saying he doesn't want anymore pizza so you'll leave that last slice in the box and he can grab it cold for breakfast tomorrow.

Bellator just wants to resign Askren on the cheap and the only way to do this is to force UFC to overpay OR force Askren to take a lowball deal. Phone Post
He is more exciting than gsp and he is a great trash talker Phone Post
C'mon now. I'll agree that gsp's fights have been less exciting than he was in the past, but to say Ben is more exciting is 'worthy of ridicule' (ridiculous) Phone Post
Why exactly? GPS jabs or doubles to taking no chances on top. Askren is constantly chain wrestling and smothering his opponent. His last opponent stuffed three takedowns and askren just kept changing takedowns until he got it . He went for a ton of submissions and threw 239 punches. GPS just rode nick diazs back not even trying to put the hooks in or choke. Phone Post
8/23/13 5:26 PM
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TheGoldenRule
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weebrave -
TheGoldenRule -
weebrave -
JeffersonDArcyChoke - It really makes no sense for the UFC to pay a premium for Askren.

He won't draw money on PPV.

His style won't change so it is not like he will excite the masses.

Even at a low price it's bad for UFC because if Askren comes in and grapplefucks his way to the title you end up with a champ who isn't marketable yet no one can effectively defeat him.

I think this move is just a fat guy saying he doesn't want anymore pizza so you'll leave that last slice in the box and he can grab it cold for breakfast tomorrow.

Bellator just wants to resign Askren on the cheap and the only way to do this is to force UFC to overpay OR force Askren to take a lowball deal. Phone Post
He is more exciting than gsp and he is a great trash talker Phone Post
C'mon now. I'll agree that gsp's fights have been less exciting than he was in the past, but to say Ben is more exciting is 'worthy of ridicule' (ridiculous) Phone Post
Why exactly? GPS jabs or doubles to taking no chances on top. Askren is constantly chain wrestling and smothering his opponent. His last opponent stuffed three takedowns and askren just kept changing takedowns until he got it . He went for a ton of submissions and threw 239 punches. GPS just rode nick diazs back not even trying to put the hooks in or choke. Phone Post
Don't wanna get into a sparring match with you. You're entitled to believe Ben is more exciting than GSP. more power to ya.
But since the Diaz fight was your point of reference, let's start there.
First, I admitted that GSP has been less exciting lately.
Second, If jabs n doubles is all you saw, watch again. You might actually find yourself to be missing a bit.
If GSP didn't have the striking capabilities he possesses, he may not have been able to take Nick down and take his back at will ad nauseam throughout the fight.
let's also not forget it was Nick effin Diaz. When has Ben fought anyone ranked as high as Nick? I'm not saying that Ben hasn't fought worthy fighters. I'm not even saying Ben wouldn't be able to do the same to Nick that GSP did. However, since you referenced that specific fight as proof that Ben is more exciting, that would render you reference point moot. Phone Post
8/23/13 5:50 PM
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weebrave
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I agree, gsp used to be exciting. I understand the difference of competition. And yeah I don't want to argue I just can't stand watching gsp take no chances. Askren has had me saying wow quite a few times, maybe cuz I'm a former wrestler Phone Post

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