Ben Askren's standing beefs with several UFC welterweights will have to remain on Twitter. At least for now.
The world-class 170-pounder told MMAFighting.com at the Fighters Only World MMA Awards on Jan. 30 in Las Vegas that he will not be leaving ONE Championship (formerly ONE FC) any time soon. Askren said he has multiple fights left on his deal and isn't looking to depart the Asian organization.
"I'm with ONE FC for a long time and for the foreseeable future," Askren said.
UFC president Dana White has said repeatedly that Askren does not want to fight in his organization. Askren preferred not to address White's assertions, but he did attempt to sign with the UFC after his Bellator deal expired late in 2013. White was dismissive, saying Askren should go to World Series of Fighting to gain more experience, even though Askren was the dominant Bellator welterweight champion.
Askren, 30, and his team made one last effort to sign with the UFC, but were rebuffed. So the former NCAA champion wrestler inked a contract with ONE FC instead.
Since then and even before that, Askren and White have sniped back and forth with each other in interviews and social media. Askren was in teammate Anthony Pettis' corner for Pettis' lightweight title fight against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 and didn't encounter White. He didn't plan on saying anything to the UFC boss at the MMA Awards, either.
"He avoided me like the plague when I was cornering Anthony Pettis," Askren said. "I doubt he would say hi to me if we were to cross paths."
The undefeated Askren (14-0) will defend his ONE Championship welterweight title against Luis Santos on April 24 in Manila, Philippines. Askren won the belt with a first-round TKO of Nobutatsu Suzuki last August. He has finished his last four fights despite his reputation as a boring fighter. Santos will likely be his toughest test in ONE thus far.
While the possibility of fighting in the UFC is not on his mind, Askren is at least paying attention to one U.S. MMA promotion: Bellator. His former organization is thriving under new president Scott Coker and Askren has noticed.
"For me, it was fascinating to watch that business grow and it grew like crazy," Askren said. "Now, Scott has really taken them to the next level. They've had some outstanding shows lately. Huge ratings. It'll be very interesting to see what Scott ends up doing with them."
It'll also be interesting to see what happens with Askren in the future.