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Scott Coker responds to Ben Askren’s Bellator sale claim, says ex-champ mad over Jake Paul prediction

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bellator President Scott Coker did not take kindly to retired champ Ben Askren’s claim that the promotion he oversees is up for sale – and he’s responsible for it.

“He’s making a very serious accusation that’s untrue,” Coker told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “I’m meeting with my lawyers later today to discuss our options.”

Askren took to Twitter to lambaste the Bellator exec one day after Coker predicted he would get knocked out in a rumored boxing match with YouTube star Jake Paul.

On Askren’s potential matchup with Paul, Coker told MMA Junkie, “I already know who’s gonna win that one. Ben’s a wrestler. Let’s put it that way, right? So I think he gets knocked out in a boxing fight. But in an MMA fight, it’s a different story.”

Coker attributed the former ONE Championship welterweight titleholder’s swipe to sour grapes over his opinion.

“He’s just mad because I said [Jake] would knock him out in a boxing match, which is true,” he said.

Askren declined to comment on Coker’s remarks. Coker refuted the ex-champ’s claim about Bellator’s parent company trying to sell the fight promotion. He did, however, confirm there was recent interest from investment bankers in purchasing a stake in the company.

“This just came up a couple days ago, because there were groups inquiring about [whether] Viacom [would] want to sell a piece of Bellator, and they said no,” Coker said.

Any offers to own Bellator outright, he said, have been rejected.

“There’s probably been five, six offers for Bellator since I’ve been there – in the last few years – and Viacom turned them all down,” Coker said.

Askren, 36, retired in November 2019, one month after a submission loss to Demian Maia in the UFC that followed a brutal five-second knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal that scuttled a title shot in the octagon.

Recently, the ex-champ turned his eye toward Paul, who called him out after a viral knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson in the co-main event of the blockbuster Tyson vs. Jones Jr. pay-per-view. Paul has also targeted Bellator fighter Dillon Danis, attacking the Conor McGregor teammate in a drive-by stunt that appeared to be staged.

Footage of the attack was eventually released by Showtime, Bellator’s broadcast partner. But Coker said he isn’t really interested in a celebrity boxing match – unless there’s an agreement to add on an MMA fight.

“If they fight, it should be an MMA fight, and [the Paul brothers are] not going to do that,” Coker said. “To me, I don’t understand why. These guys have wrestled in the past. They’re great athletes. To me, if they wanted to do one-for-one, we could do that, but I don’t see it happening.”

After a profane video callout, Jake Paul continued to push for a fight against McGregor in a recent TMZ interview. His older brother, Logan Paul, is now set for an exhibition bout against retired champ Floyd Mayweather on Feb. 20.