Speaking at the UFC on Fox 9 press conference promoting his first title defense, UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was asked who in his Roufusport camp we could be seeing join the UFC ranks sooner than later. After mentioning his younger brother Sergio, Pettis started gushing over U.S. Olympian and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.
"One guy that is on the main stage already is Ben Askren," said Pettis. "He's stuck between Bellator and UFC, thinking about retiring. One of the best guys I've ever trained with. His level of wrestling and how much better he's got his striking is ridiculous. One guy I don't want to see retire. I don't want to see him get lost between organizations."
Thursday night, Askren not only dispelled the retirement rumors, but called out UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Unless St-Pierre plans on looking for work elsewhere, Askren's signing with the UFC may just be a matter of time.
Once I figured out GSPs dark place didn't really exist I knew he would be easy prey!— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 4, 2013
Seriously though GSP in 2009 prob would have beat me, but this current version fights way too scared!— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 4, 2013
I will lay on GSP for as long as I damn well please.— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) October 4, 2013
Askren recently finished out his contract with Bellator in July, scoring a TKO victory over Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97. Although Bellator waived the right to an exclusive negotiating period to allow Askren to test the waters of free agency, the promotion still has the right to match any offer he may receive. Askren would need to allow for that exclusive matching period to end before truly becoming an unrestricted free agent.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Jones vs. Teixeira set for UFC 169. With the addition of Alistair Overeem vs. Frank Mir being brought over from UFC 167, Jon Jones will make the next defense of his UFC light heavyweight title to Glover Teixeira in February 2014.
Remembering EliteXC. Five years removed from the promotion's infamous final show, Chuck Mindenhall's piece on the strange, last days of the promotion is an absolute must-read. "It was like the circus was in town, and they were going to check out ‘the show.' They aren't there to see the other MMA fighters and they weren't MMA fans. They were Kimbo Slice fans."
Rothwell suspended. While his recent TKO victory over Brandon Vera cannot be overturned by Wisconsin's athletic commission, the UFC has suspended heavyweight Ben Rothwell nine months for exceeding allotted testosterone levels.
Munoz on Hall. As a training partner and coach, Mark Munoz gives some insight into the troubles Uriah Hall has had since his dominating stint on The Ultimate Fighter. "When he steps into the Octagon, he's not the same person that I see in practice."
UFC on FOX 9: Pettis vs. Thomson Press Conference.
Ronda's mom stops by TUF.
Rico Verhoeven's Glory 11 interview. I sat behind his girlfriend at Glory 9 in New York and man can she scream.
UFC Tonight: Sonnen responds to Silva taunts with bonus arm wrestling.
A look at the Evolve Fight Team.
Today was belt promotion day at aka and it was awesome. I got my brown belt from white and Cain and... http://t.co/375p37OfYr— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) October 3, 2013
Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) October 3, 2013
Impressive. Most impressive.
Urijah Faber (@UrijahFaber) October 3, 2013
The Professors are still crazy.
"@danawhite: very true I just care about the guy and don't want to see him get hurt" That's how we know our sport is in great hands.. ;-)— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) October 3, 2013
Done! http://t.co/scncvC3nMw— Royce Gracie (@realroyce) October 3, 2013
Get that Reebok money.
Johny Hendricks (@JohnyHendricks) October 3, 2013
His neighbors must love it.
Semmy Schilt (@semmyschilt) October 3, 2013
I find it amazing, that other people find it amazing that the strongest man in the world was able to hold me down on my back for 2 rounds— Sean McCorkle (@BigSexyMcCorkle) October 3, 2013
Announced yesterday (Oct. 3 2013)
Bobby Voelker vs. William Macario at UFC 168
Matthew Riddle vs. TBA at Bellator 109
Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira at UFC 169
Cody McKenzie vs. Sam Stout at UFC on FOX 9
Robert Drysdale vs. Cody Donovan at UFC 167
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via Decado.
A random, off the cuff question from my MMA Sentinel partner in crime, Steph Daniels, ‘Is Jon Jones the UFC's third biggest Pay-Per-View draw?' led me down a surprising rabbit hole. When I consulted my magical spreadsheet that I used to chart the UFC's Pay-Per-View trends over the past 6 years, I discovered something surprising.
There are only four fighters in the UFC who have drawn over 500,000 buys on average over the past two years or so. There are perhaps another three who regularly draw over 400,000. Overall, there are only 8 fighters who average over 300,000 buys. This is a significant drop from the high point of 2009. Is the UFC failing to create new draws?
First of all, there's an important caveat to all of this. I only count headliners. The strength of the undercard is ignored completely. In some instances this can skew things a little, a very strong co-main event can account for an extra 50,000 - 100,000 buys or more, but properly accounting for that in an objective manner is impossible, so I avoid that pitfall by only counting headliners. The UFC doesn't release PPV buy numbers, so for the most part these are estimates from industry insiders and analysts such as Dave Meltzer.
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