Askren is an undefeated former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder, not to mention a former Olympic wrestler. Danis, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, picked up a submission victory over Kyle Walker in the first round Saturday night to move to 1-0 in mixed martial arts.
There is an obvious disparity in résumé. Askren’s is far more impressive. But Danis told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he believes a fight with Askren would go very well for him.
“I feel like I am the one to beat his undefeated record,” Danis said. “It would, I think, be a ground fight and it would be an easy submission for me. He does not like leg attacks. I know his game very well. I feel like he would be scared to go to the ground with me. So, yeah. I believe it would be an easy fight.”
Askren is currently retired, though he has expressed an interest in coming back for big fights, notably against Georges St-Pierre in the UFC. Danis seems to be trying to lure “Funky” back to Bellator, where he reined as welterweight champ from 2010 to 2013.
On Saturday night, Askren addressed Danis’ comments on Twitter, writing that Danis feels “safe” because he knows the fight won’t happen.
He realizes this isn’t reality so he feels safe doing so. Maybe he should fight someone with a winning record first https://t.co/X2dGlYTVyI— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) April 29, 2018
“Maybe he should fight someone with a winning record first,” Askren said.
Walker, Danis’ opponent, moved to 2-5 after the loss to Danis. But Danis believes he got a rise out of Askren with the call out.
“He responded, so I wonder why he responded,” Danis said. “I’m pretty sure he’s not responding to just anybody. He knows that once he responds to me, his name is gonna be all over the place. Probably the most media he’s ever gotten.”
Danis, 24, said he believes he did the bulk of the press for Bellator 198 and was the main reason why it’ll end up being the second biggest gate number in the promotion’s history. Danis, a teammate of Conor McGregor, believes Bellator is ready to strap a jetpack to him and push him as its next star.
“I feel like they’ve finally got their golden boy,” Danis said. “I 100 percent feel like that and I’m willing to do it. I feel like I can do something here. I feel like I have all the recipe to be different. I’ve been saying that. It’s all the things I’ve said. I really feel like no one has seen the way — my fighting style is so different. … I just feel like I’m different in every aspect and I feel like Bellator recognizes that. They feel like they finally have their golden boy.”
Danis, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Marcelo Garcia, did have some serious moments in the 1:38 that the fight lasted. Walker cracked him several times with hard punches. Danis said they didn’t faze him.
“I studied jiu-jitsu guys fighting over and over and over again,” Danis said. “And I knew the key to this fight was to be calm. So if you miss a shot, it’s not big deal. Stand back up, you know? In my head, Conor hit me way harder than that, way harder than that at the gym. I was like, this is nothing. I was going to keep walking forward — I could take it.”
Danis’ performance in the cage and with a microphone in front of him certainly garnered some attention. Bellator interviewed him on the broadcast backstage before the fight, after the fight in the cage and then after the fight backstage. Askren and former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler took notice. Chandler blasted Danis in a tweet, that Danis should call himself the “most un-athletic” fighter in Bellator, rather than the highest paid.
“They’re trying to get their name out there,” Danis said. “They have no media. They’re kind of like nobodies, so when they call my name out, they get a bunch of articles and they do all these things and everybody is kind of like, ‘Get him’ or some shit. I think they’re just doing that to get their name out there. I don’t think they actually don’t like me or anything. I think deep down, they probably want to be me and stuff.”