Morning Report: Dana White expresses interest in signing Bellator champ Ben Askren

Bellator MMA

Not long ago, UFC President Dana White and Ben Askren weren't on the best of terms.

"When Ambien can't sleep, it takes Ben Askren," White famously tweeted in April 2012. "The most boring fighter in MMA history. I would rather watch flies f--k."

But the times, they are a-changin'. Since that little dust-up, Askren has raised the bar on his smothering, oppressive style, finishing consecutive opponents and doing so in the most lopsided fashion imaginable. And now that Askren is a free agent, the UFC might just come calling.

"We'll talk to Ben," White told reporters during Thursday's post-presser scrum. "Yeah, we'll talk to him."

An outspoken fighter who blatantly embraces the heel role, Askren has always been a curious case. He realistically hasn't been challenged since late-2011. The four-time All American manhandled Douglas Lima and Karl Amoussou, then defeated Andrey Koreshkov so thoroughly, the CompuStrike punch total (248 to 3) looks like something out of a video game.

But White was quick to warn, things might not be so easy inside the Octagon.

"You can do that in Bellator, you know what I mean? It's going to be tougher to do it here."

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7 MUST-READ STORIES

Askren's options. UFC President Dana White voiced interest in talking to Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently became a free agent following a lopsided dismantling of Andrey Koreshkov.

White takes aim at Bellator. After hearing Bjorn Rebney lob a thinly veiled shot his way last week, Dana White wasn't shy about firing back. "I would shut my face and start running my business," White said. "That thing is a disaster over there. It's an embarrassment. My video blog does more viewers than their TV show."

TUF 18 cast. UFC officials released the cast list for the 32-fighter roster of The Ultimate Fighter 18. Notable among the female entrants are veterans Shayna Baszler, Tara LaRosa and Roxanne Modafferi.

Bowles suspended. The Nevada State Athletic Commission issued a nine-month suspension towards UFC bantamweight Brian Bowles for his failed UFC 160 post-fight drug test. Bowles, whose elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio tested out at 20-1, was also fined 30-percent of his purse.

Newton vs. Lawal 2. Less than six months after Attila Vegh seized the Bellator light heavyweight strap, Bellator officials have decided to create an interim title while Vegh recovers from an undisclosed shoulder injury. So, conveniently, Bellator went ahead and booked an Emanuel Newton vs. "King Mo" Lawal rematch for its pay-per-view debut.

White on Rousey. Asked about Ronda Rousey's recent retirement tirade, Dana White simply responded, "There's no way in hell (she retires in two years). ... I don't care what Hollywood offers, they ain't paying what we're paying."

UFC roster update. The profiles of six fighters were removed from UFC.com, likely signaling their release from the promotion. Those fighters are: Vinny Magalhaes, Dave Herman, Roger Gracie, Ednaldo Oliveira, Bristol Marunde and John Maguire.

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MEDIA STEW

In case you missed it, check out yesterday's pre-fight presser staredowns. With Shogun and Overeem standing side by side, it's pretty bizarre to think that the smaller man demolished the behemoth twice in a past life.

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Anderson Silva on Glover Teixeira:

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Your daily dose of Lauzon. The guy can't stop, won't stop.

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I couldn't decide whether to slot a Fight of the Year candidate in here or some heavyweight Brock-ness, so hey, why can't we have both?

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After careful deliberation, MMA Fighting scores this round 10-8 for Burt Watson.

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Finally, let's roll into the weekend with a classic blast to the past: The day is November 8, 2002, and an explosive newcomer named Mauricio Rua is about to make his professional MMA debut.

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TROUBLE BREWIN' IN BOSTON

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SICK OF IT

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WELL, IT'S WORTH A TRY

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TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK

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CALL YOUR SHOT

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THE BEST PART

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CAR THIEVES, YA'LL REALLY NEED TO START PICKING SAFER TARGETS

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Thursday, August 15, 2013):

  • UFC Fight Night 29: Thiago Silva (15-3, 2 NC) vs. Matt Hamill (11-4)
  • UFC Fight Night 29: Joey Beltran (14-8, 1 NC) vs. Fabio Maldonado (19-6)
  • UFC Fight Night 29: Hacran Dias (21-2-1) and Rodrigo Damm (11-6)
  • Bellator PPV: Emanuel Newton (21-7-1) vs. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (11-2) booked for interim title bout
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    FANPOST OF THE DAY

    Today's Fanpost of the Day is the latest weekly edition of dpk875's: Prospects to Watch this Weekend

    Here are some of the better prospects in action this weekend. I'm not perfect, if I've missed a fight that you know of or someone has pulled out of a fight let me know in the comments section.

    Shinzo Fight Sport - 16 Aug - Guatemala City, Guatemala

    WW

    Chidi Njokuani (9-4) vs. Levon Maynard

    Njokuani is the bother of UFC LW Anthony Njokuani, but looking to rebound from a loss to MW prospect Jeremy Kimball last time out. Like his brother, Chidi has a Muay Thai base, and if he is going to be exposed it will be through his grappling.

    RFA - 16 Aug - Los Angeles, CA - RFA cards are a good place from top to bottom are a good place to check out solid MMA prospects

    BW

    Pedro Munhoz (8-0) vs. Jeff Curran (34-15)

    Munhoz is a two time Brazilian National No-Gi Champion, and it shows in his MMA game. Munhoz is a threat for a submission from any position in a scramble, and it will be interesting to see how he matches up with Curran who is no slouch on the ground himself. Pedro has shown improvement on his standup, but Curran will have the striking advantage in this fight.

    HW

    Steve Mocco (2-0) vs. Lew Polley (12-4)

    2 x NCAA Division 1 Champion, and 2008 Olympian Steve Mocco will face the toughest challenge of his young career when he squares off with Lew Polley. Polley came in around 30 pounds overweight for a LHW fight at last weeks WSOF, that was then cancelled, but Polley jumps right into a HW fight this week. Polley is a former Division1 wrestler himself, and was last in action under the Bellator banner. An impressive win here by Mocco could put him on the UFC roster sooner than later.

    Cage Fury Fighting Championships - 17 Aug - Atlantic City, NJ

    LW

    Jordan Stiner (4-0) vs. Donald Ooton (4-0)

    After starting his career at Virginia Tech, Ooton transferred and was a 2 x Division III All-American at Brockport University. He has also served as an assistant wrestling coach at Bucknell University. When it comes to MMA, he is looking for the takedown, and then launches right into aggressive Ground and Pound. Stiner comes from Renzo Gracie'sPennsylvania based affiliates team. Jordan is good out of scrambles gaining the dominant position, and then using GnP to open up submissions.

    King of the Cage - 17 Aug - Gold Country Casino

    FLW

    Josh Paiva (3-0) vs. Zach Lari (9-3)

    Paiva has a wrestling back ground, to include a California State Greco-Roman Championship (for what that is worth), and you can see it in his game. Look for some impressive slams, and throws when closes the distance. He also has a developing Stand-up game, where he uses kicks to keep distance until he wants to close and grab his opponent. Paiva does leave himself open to some submissions when it goes to the ground, and that is where Lari provides a tough challenge, as he has finished his last 4 opponents by submission.

    Review from Last week

    PXC

    Russell Doane dropped to 10-2 by dropping a split decision to Kyle Aguon (6-3). It marked Aguon's 4th straight victory after starting his career at 2-3.

    CES

    Rob Font (7-1) stopped Chris Foster with a 1st round TKO. It marks Font's 6th straight win, and he is likely on the Bellator, and UFC radars as his last 3 victories have come over opponents with a combined 25-8 record.

    Predator FC

    Livia Renata Souza (3-0) remained undefeated with her 3rd straight submission victory.

    In a fight that I missed in last weeks preview, Featherweight Julio Cesar Nevesimproved to 26-0 (Made his pro debut in October 2011), with a an amazing KO victory. While Neves has a lot of wins over in-experienced, and low quality opponents, he does have a few decent wins on his resume, and this KO had to catch the attention of both UFC, and Bellator.

    At Jackson's MMA Series, Mexican Middleweight Augusto Montano improved to 13-1 with his 4th straight stoppage victory. Montano's only loss is to Bellator, and TUF Veteran Sam Alvey back in 2011. With UFC looking to expand into Mexico, I think it is very likely that Montano could get a look.

    Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in Monday's column.

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