Bellator MMA has officially decided to sever ties with welterweight champion Ben Askren after failing to come to terms on a new contract. Askren had been a restricted free agency until today. Askren is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign where he wants.
Askren fought nine times under the Bellator MMA banner, winning all nine fights. The former Olympian has spent the majority of his career in the Bellator cage but will now look to continue his career in the Octagon. Askren has not fought since dominating Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97, but did headline wrestling organization AGON’s first ever PPV, dominating Quentin Wright with ease.
“I’ve said it many times, Ben’s a completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I had a number of discussions with Ben and it became clear it was time for both parties to move in different directions. We’ve relinquished any right to match here and Ben can sign with whoever he chooses to sign with. Ben’s been at Bellator since the start of his career, I respect him and what he’s accomplished and wish him the best wherever he goes.”
Bellator’s welterweight title is now vacant, and will see the Season 9 champion meet Season 8 champion Douglas Lima early in 2014.