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Ben Askren to ‘reevaluate’ next matchup after Darren Till loss, would still ‘love to fight’ Jorge Masvidal

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Ben Askren was on site for UFC London.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ben Askren traveled to UFC London with hopes of fighting the winner of the main event between Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal.

In the lead-up to the card, he made it clear that he expected Till to be that winner. The two welterweights even planted the seeds for a matchup with an amusing exchange at Friday’s fan Q&A. Ultimately though, Masvidal was more than happy to throw a monkey wrench into Askren’s plans, as “Gamebred” scored a scintillating second-round knockout of Till on Saturday night in the headlining bout of UFC London, then called for a title shot against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

But even though his potential dance date with Till was cancelled, Askren wasn’t changing his tune. He still wants a fight with Masvidal next — and he scoffed at Masvidal’s title plans.

“I would love to fight [Masvidal], but like I said, you heard that post-fight speech, I think he’s trying to find reasons not to fight me,” Askren said Saturday on the UFC London post-fight show. “He’s talking about fight for the belt — prior to this fight, he had two losses in a row. You don’t go from losing two [in a row] to winning one and then all of a sudden you have a belt when there’s all these guys in front of you. It just doesn’t work that way.”

Askren, the former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder who defeated Robbie Lawler via controversial first-round submission at UFC 235 in his Octagon debut, also mentioned fellow welterweight contender Leon Edwards as a potential next foe. Edwards defeated Gunnar Nelson via unanimous decision in Saturday’s night co-main event to extend his UFC winning streak to seven straight.

Askren added Rafael dos Anjos, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and interim welterweight champion Colby Covington to his list of name as well, although he doesn’t see the latter option being a likely path, as Covington will presumably face Usman for the title next.

“No one likes Colby,” Askren said. “I don’t like Colby. I would love to skip over him and fight Usman, but it doesn’t seem like Usman wants that either. He’s not keeping that same energy, as the kids say. I would love to have him call me out. He didn’t. So, again, I thought Till was going to win tonight. I think we’ll go reevaluate. I’d love to fight Masvidal. I’d love to fight Leon Edwards.

“I would like someone [ranked] higher [than Edwards], but if that’s who they gave me instead, I would definitely say yes,” continued Askren. “What I was surprised about was his ability to do well in the grappling department. I thought that was the place that Gunnar Nelson had a huge advantage in, and Leon Edwards not only got takedowns, he controlled the position on top, he stuffed all of Gunnar Nelson’s takedowns.”

Notably, a post-fight altercation between Masvidal and Edwards erupted in the bowels of The O2 Arena on Saturday, with Masvidal throwing several punches at Edwards and opening a small cut on the Englishman’s cheek. A rivalry seemingly exists now between those two welterweights, which could lead to a grudge match being booked by UFC matchmakers.

Such a turn of events would leave Askren without an obvious next foe. “Funky” said he is open to anything; the only fight he would not be particularly interested in is a rematch with Lawler.

“The first guy I asked [the UFC] for was Darren Till actually, and then they said how about Robbie Lawler,” Askren said. “I said, ‘Listen, I’m here to fight everybody, so if you want me to fight Robbie Lawler, I’ll fight.’ It didn’t take more than a phone call, right? I’ll fight Robbie Lawler, no big deal. But I didn’t want to. And so now I did it once and they want me to go do again. I just, I don’t see how that moves me farther up, and that’s where I want to go, I want to move farther up.”

Askren added that he wasn’t sure about a timetable to get his next fight booked, but he hoped to have an answer soon.

“I genuinely don’t know,” Askren said. “They haven’t brought the fight to me yet. They haven’t asked me to do it. I said I’d reevaluate after tonight, so I guess tomorrow maybe we’ll be talking to them and we’ll figure out what’s going to happen.”