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In November 2018, the Ultimate Fighting Championship announced they had signed former One Championship and Bellator MMA welterweight king Ben Askren, who arrived to the promotion riding a huge wave of hype with many believing it would only be a matter of time before he would add a UFC belt to his list of achievements.
Fast forward to a little over a year and the man affectionately known as “Funky” has decided to hang up the gloves after suffering back-to-back losses, including a UFC-record fastest knockout, courtesy of Jorge Masvidal.
Askren’s head coach, Duke Roufus, talked to MMAFighting about his fighter announcing his retirement and said if the promotion had signed him earlier he is confident he would have been a UFC champion.
“He would be champion,” Roufus told MMA Fighting. “He’d be the triple champ. One, Bellator, and UFC. I believe that. Unfortunately, circumstances and timing don’t work out. I’ve seen him do some special stuff in the cage and in practice ever since I met Ben, it’s just sometimes timing doesn’t line up in this industry.”
Roufus took aim at former Bellator President Bjorn Rebney as to why Askren was not signed immediately to the UFC after he had left Bellator.
“The toughest thing is timing. I wish that Ben would have been given the opportunity when he should have, to enter the UFC when he was coming out of Bellator,” Roufus said. “Everything worked out the way it did, I blame Bjorn Rebney, the way he treated that situation that caused Ben to not matter to the UFC.
“That being said, I wish Ben would have come into the UFC at that time. I think we would have seen the real Ben. Guys like myself and Tyron Woodley have talked about the special Ben, at that time he was untouchable.”