GSP says he will fight Ben Askren, but who will decide if he gets to?

Georges St. Pierre has dominated the welterweight landscape for five years, compiling nine consecutive title defenses.

He has fought grapplers (Josh Koschek, Jon Fitch),  BJJ specialists (Matt Serra, Jake Shields), strikers (Thiago Alves, Nick Diaz, Dan Hardy), and balanced fighters (BJ Penn, Carlos Condit). He has displayed an adaptability both mental and physical – altering his strategy to each opponent while focusing his game around exceptionally  crisp striking and stifling wrestling. Some would argue amongst those fighters are a few world-class level practitioners.

Talking with, St. Pierre stated he would like to fight Askren, “He’s a good fighter, undefeated, and yes, if he comes, I’ll fight him. No problem.”

The question is if GSP will ever get the chance.

There are a number of parties and politics at play. On one side we have the UFC by extension Dana White and GSP while on the other is Bellator by extension Bjorn Rebney and Askren.

According to Dana White after last weekend’s card, the UFC plans to talk with the Bellator champion. It would appear as such that the ball is in Askren’s corner. Until it isn’t.

The issue is the same as with Eddie Alvarez: Askren has a matching clause in his contract. Per Josh Gross of ESPN on Oct. 10, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Askren have an agreement in place regarding the use of the matching clause – should the UFC offer Askren an immediate title shot, Bellator and Rebney will waive the clause.

The likelihood of that is slim. Immediate title shots are rare (they traditionally have gone to fighters who are consolidated onto the UFC’s roster a la Gilbert Melendez and Strikeforce) for a reason. This would make it appear as if the UFC is in the driver’s seat. Dana White has in the past expressed doubt whether Askren is capable of fighting even the tope contenders in the promotion.

Which ultimately brings us back to the champ. Realistically, GSP is in the most influential position. While GSP tried to assert to MMJunkie that, “I am the champion, and I have no choice, so it’s no problem.” That’s largely a lot of bunk. GSP surely has a choice. He had the choice to fight Anderson Silva and chose not to. He had the choice to fight Hendricks or Nikc Diaz and chose Diaz.

If GSP feels Askren is not deserving of an immediate shot or that he would like to take a long break (such as, oh, retirement), what leverage does Askren have? What would motivate the UFC to enter into a contract battle for Askren’s services and a title shot? It would take a huge deal which Bellator could not possibly match – to which Bellator will probably do anyways.

In the end, we won’t know until GSP v. Hendricks has taken place – because the outcome can change everything. If Hendricks wins, GSP retires (as some have rumored he would with a loss), the UFC would absolutely offer Askren a title shot for no reason other than to pilfer him from Bellator san the matching clause.

This could get very interesing.


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