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Askren: Dana White ‘doesn’t give fighters he doesn’t like title shots’


Dana White privilege is alive and well according to former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren.

Askren was known in the MMA scene for his grinding wrestling style. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective: he went 19-0 before losing the last two fights of his career and retiring from the sport. Unfortunately, he knew that his particular brand of fighting wasn’t going to earn him a title shot easily in the UFC.

In a new podcast with Daniel Cormier, “Funky” argued that UFC CEO White keeps wrestlers and less exciting fighters out of the title shot picture.

“It’s highway robbery,” Askren told Cormier. “And listen, I know you can’t say anything bad about Dana. It’s okay, I can. I freaking hate it when Dana does this s— and doesn’t give people he doesn’t like title shots. Because Merab, how many did he win, like nine in a row or something!?”

Cormier pointed out that Merab Dvalishvili had just been announced as the next bantamweight contender.

“Well yeah, about damn time,” Askren replied. “Belal’s another one, Belal’s won how many in a row? Some of these guys … and I’m not even mad because I like this guy. But Michael Chandler, he came in from Bellator, it might have been off a loss, he won one fight and fought for a belt! Because Dana liked him, right? And then you have a guy like Belal who wins like what, eight or nine in a row? Merab, eight or nine in a row.”

Cormier added Leon Edwards to the list, who had to win nine straight before getting a go at champion Kamaru Usman.

“That’s what I’m saying,” Askren exclaimed. “It’s so frustrating to watch these guys just struggle and they’re so good.”

“Funky” went on to compare UFC to amateur wrestling competition, where there’s a tournament every year to determine who the best wrestler is.

“Sometimes we don’t know who the best in the world is. Every year we have a World Championships and we know who the best is and no one will argue it. But how long has Merab actually been the best in the world? It might have been a couple of years!”

There’s certainly a case to be made that some fighters get a much easier path to UFC gold than others. Some fight more fights, others have to go through the worst killers and nightmare stylistic match-ups. Then there’s the popular fighters that seem to glide right in off two wins.

Dvalishvili isn’t the best guy to bring up, though, because he actively refused to fight his friend and training partner Aljamain Sterling during his 2021-2023 reign. “The Machine” may have been the best bantamweight, but he was the one refusing to book a title fight, not the UFC.

So long as Belal Muhammad continues to sit waiting for his welterweight title shot, the point stands.



This story originally appeared on MMA Mania

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