Less than 2 weeks ago, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney cemented his introduction into the “King-White Promoters’ Hall of Fame” by throwing one of his own promotion’s champions under the bus. He recently made headlines by saying that Bellator probably would not move to re-sign Welterweight Champion Ben Askren when his contract expires. However, due to those minor quirks in Bellator fighter contracts known as the “Joe Son clauses,” the promotion may still match any offer that comes in from the UFC:
If the UFC does make an offer, we’ll take a look at it and move on from there,” Rebney said. “We haven’t been proactive yet. I have nothing but good things to say about Ben as a fighter, but we’re all very aware of how he fights and what he does — it’s not for everyone.
Of course, it would not behoove Rebney to advertise the fact that Bellator intends to match any offer given to Askren by the UFC, but that quote still led to an opening for Dana White to call Rebney a scumbag, which he did not pass up:
Bjorn Rebney’s a scumbag. The guy says, ‘Yeah, we’re going to let him go. Let’s just part ways.’ You ain’t fucking parting ways with him. He’s got a matching right and all that bullshit. This guy is a fucking typical boxing piece of shit. Everybody knows the guy is a scumbag.
Bjorn, didn’t you know that you were giving Dana White a free shot at you by throwing one of your own champions under the bus in public? Is this a plan to save a little money on a contract matching offer, or is he really going to fire his champion for being a proverbial blanket? A recent Sherdog interview suggests the latter:
Ben is always going to be that character. Ben’s never going to become a different type of personality in this space. He’s never going to be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. He’s never going to be Michael Chandler. He’s going to be Ben. Everybody’s got their own pull and traction points in terms of how they connect with consumers. Ben’s is just different than other people’s, and I don’t know that that’s positive or negative. In terms of his long-term future here, I don’t know. I’m not sure what will happen with Ben. I’m not sure if he’ll continue fighting here or if he’ll go and fight somewhere else. … He is, as everybody’s described him, wildly one-dimensional, but when people say that to me about Ben Askren, I say well, if you don’t like the dimension, then change it or fix it or beat it, and nobody has been able to. So I don’t know. We’ll see what happens with Ben.
On the plus side, at least Rebney’s opinion went from “We’re letting him go” to “Meh, whatever.” However, if Bellator is now showing more motivation to sign Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson than to maintain their undefeated champion, who is an actual viable contender, then what does this say about them? They might end up as EliteXC faster than the IFL.