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ONE CEO: Ben Askren vs. Benson Henderson is a fight 'the world would want to watch'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

ONE Championship will likely throw its hat in the ring for free agent Benson Henderson. And CEO Victor Cui knows that his promotion has a marketable fight for the former UFC lightweight champion right off the bat -- against Ben Askren.

"A Ben vs. Ben story is definitely an interesting matchup that the world would want to watch," Cui told MMA Fighting.

Cui said that no one from ONE has spoken to Henderson at this time and warned that any other promotion saying it has is either lying or "doesn't know the business." Right now, the UFC has an exclusive negotiating window with Henderson. Once that is up, the UFC will then have a right to match any other contract offers.

Henderson, 32, said Monday on The MMA Hour that he plans on fielding offers and it is his desire to make enough money to fully support his growing family.

ONE, which has considerable financial backing, has the ability to give Henderson what he wants from a money perspective. "Smooth" also has plenty to offer the biggest MMA organization in Asia. Not only is he a popular former champion who has headlined 10 UFC events, he is also of South Korean descent on his mother's side.

Henderson beat Jorge Masvidal in Seoul last month and said he was mobbed on the streets in his mother's home country. That's the kind of treatment former UFC fighter Brandon Vera gets when he goes to Manila. Vera is headlining ONE's event there Friday against Paul Cheng in a bout for the inaugural ONE heavyweight title.

"I think you've clearly seen our template that we look for, for talented fighters in the world," Cui said. "We want guys that believe in Asia, that can excite the Asian fans -- whether they have an Asian background or not. And that are top fighters in the world. If you've got that criteria, we're going to look at you. I would say that he has several of those check marks."

Henderson (23-5) is still one of the best lightweights in the world and he has won his last two bouts at welterweight against strong competition. Askren vs. Henderson would be one of the best fights outside the UFC that an organization could put on. Askren is an undefeated former Bellator welterweight champion and currently ONE's 170-pound champ.

Cui said normally when a star somewhere in the world becomes available, his or her team usually reaches out to ONE matchmaker Matt Hume or ONE vice president Rich Franklin rather quickly. He expects the same here once Henderson becomes available.

"We're lucky with Matt in general," Cui said. "The best fighters in the world reach out to Matt or Rich first, as opposed to us knocking on their doors. If you're in the fight industry, there's nobody who doesn't know Matt is our matchmaker or Rich Franklin is our vice president. If you don't know it, you're probably not a good fighter."

Henderson is a good fighter. An excellent one. As good as any that has become a free agent in recent years. Bellator and South Korea's ROAD FC have already expressed interest. Add ONE to that list, too.

"I've been a fan of his for a long time," Cui said.