While Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney talked mostly about the status and future of Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson after his win Friday night at Bellator 108 over Joey Beltran in the main event, he also shared some details about the release that took place this week of their welterweight champion Ben Askren.
According to Rebney, Bellator didn't want to let Askren go and made him a "series of offers" to keep him in the fold.
"Ben's an anomoly. Ben's a freak. Ben's a freak the way Royce [Gracie] was a freak early in MMA. Completely one-dimensional fighter and just ridiculously dominant in that one dimension." Yet, Rebney noted, "he presents a weird conundrum from the MMA promoter's perspective."
"I talked to him about it. All of my communication has been with Ben. I just call him and he calls me back. We just go back and forth. His value of his perception in the marketplace was higher than my perception of his value to this company. I don't know what he's going to make where he goes. I hope he makes a fortune wrestling people to death.
"It was just a different opinion," Rebney continued. "I thought we made offers that were reasonable and fair. We made him a serious offer. We made him a series of offers and he came back and yelled at me. I made him a whole new series of offers. And then he came back again and wanted them to get bigger."
Ultimately, Rebney claims, they couldn't come close to an agreement on the terms of a deal to move forward together.
"We were just so far apart," he said. "I was like, 'Given who you are and the dynamics of MMA right now, I just think it'd probably be best if you went and did whatever you want to do, wherever you want to do it."
Still, Rebney had strong opinions in light of the UFC's apparent lack of interest in offering Askren an offer once he became an unrestricted free agent.
"I think it's disingenuous and ridiculous. If you stand up consistently at every press conference and meeting and every scrum and say the best fighters in the world fight here, and the No. 6-ranked welterweight in the world becomes available - unrestricted with no matching rights - and you don't even make him an offer, then you need to stop saying the greatest fighters in the world fight there.
"There are an awful lot of fighters in the UFC Ben Askren could beat 99 times out of 100, many of them in the top of that division," Rebney argued. "I just think it's disingenuous."