Former Bellator MMA welterweight champ and current ONE Championship king Ben Askren caught up with the FloCombat crew outside Madison Square Garden directly before the historic event, and the Funky One brought the goods.
Traversing multiple topics, Askren brought his signature confidence and swagger, starting with a strong declaration.
"If you want to get technical about it, the [Bellator] belt was never taken from me," Askren told FloCombat. "I let it go back up for grabs. [Douglas] Lima got it, then [Andrey] Koreshkov got it, then Lima got it again, but the real belt is still at 1--I shouldn't give my address out. I was going to give my address...
"People debate who the best welterweight in the world is. There's no doubt about it. It's me," Askren continued. "I was thinking about this earlier, Duane. This is some math for you. I fought 43 minutes against Lima and Koreshkov combined. Those are two pretty good fighters. If you score it minute by minute, I won all 43. I'm 43-0 against these guys. I didn't lose a round. I didn't even lose a minute."
Askren then took it a step further, continuing to pour on the heat.
"These guys never stood a chance against me," Askren said. "We're seeing how good these guys are now. I made them look terrible...When it comes down to it, there's only one best welterweight in the world. It's this guy."
With cross-promotional bouts gaining steam in the current combat sports landscape, Askren also dished a little on potential matchups outside ONE Championship. Specifically, he thinks top Bellator contender Rory MacDonald makes an interesting—and easy—foe.
"I picked that fight a long time ago," Askren said. "Obviously ONE FC is talking about [atomweight champion] Angela Lee--very, very great fighter--against Joanna--I can't say her damn last name--Joanna Champion, best female...I would love to fight Rory, Lorenz [Larkin], I don't give a damn.
"But I picked the Rory fight a long time ago. I said I'd fight him for free when I might've gone over to the UFC because I figured there's not an easier way to the belt. I'll beat this guy up no problem. So I said I'd fight him for free, because he's not even a problem.
"If we're looking to do an inter-organizational matchup, I'd love to take on either one of those guys," he continued. "I don't need Lima or Koreshkov. I already showed everybody how good they are. I need someone else."
While Askren believes in his abilities to the max, if you ask most fans, the best welterweight fighter of all time is longtime UFC champion Georges St-Pierre. While the man they call GSP is linked to a UFC middleweight title fight with Michael Bisping at the moment, Askren isn't convinced.
"I don't believe it. I don't believe it," Askren said. "Georges, obviously if you want to make a comeback against someone else--I know Georges hates Dana. Maybe that hasn't been said publicly, but we can all read between the lines there. Georges hates Dana. I think that's one of the things that's preventing the comeback, so Georges, if you ever want to come to Asia, Singapore's a beautiful place, we'd love to have ya. I'd love to see you inside the cage.
"You'd have fun in Asia, but you'd have a bad night against me."
Wrapping up the conversation, Askren discussed the momentum of a fighter's union. Fighter pay and fair treatment is a hot topic in the MMA landscape today, and Askren is equipped to discuss these issues at length.
"The MMAFA is the main group pushing it," Askren explained. "I was just talking to my wife about it. There's an inner struggle in me, right? Part of me supports these fighters. They're looking for sympathy, right? But I don't want to win via sympathy...I don't like that, because you knew the shit money you were making when you got into MMA.
"Now, if we want to say, 'Well, the UFC is taking in this revenue and they're giving out this revenue.' Most major organizations--NFL, NBA, NHL--are around 50 percent of the revenue. The UFC, for example, is a private entity, so we don't know, but most experts' guesses are between eight and 14 percent...There's some serious issues there."