LOS ANGELES – Like many, Ben Askren had the idea in his head that Kamaru Usman’s first UFC welterweight title defense would be against Colby Covington, who is on an six-fight winning streak.
But as the former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder’s UFC 239 date with Jorge Masvidal approaches, Askren can’t help but notice that it’s getting to be close to the time Usman’s next fight should be announced, and it’s yet to happen.
“I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Colby and Marty [Usman] would be fighting,” Askren told MMA Junkie at Monday’s UFC 239 media day in downtown Los Angeles. “And then a couple weeks ago I thought, ‘Man, we’re only a month out from my fight and they still haven’t announced it – that’s weird.’ And now it’s like we’re two weeks away, and there’s no other really big events on the horizon, there’s no big press conferences. I’m like, ‘Tthey’re not going to announce it.'”
That’s led Askren to believe the UFC is waiting to see how his fight Masvidal goes on July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas before deciding the next challenger. And Askren (19-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) believes this is his opportunity to swoop in and take a fight that he believes is the one Usman really wants, anyway.
“They’re going to wait and see what happens in my fight, and if my fight goes well, and I cut a mean promo, my fight with Marty makes a whole lot more sense than Colby vs. Marty,” Askren said. “Because Colby is trying the fake MAGA bull(expletive), but there’s no real heat between Colby and Marty. That’s not genuine. Whereas, for some reason, Marty really doesn’t like me. And so I think it would make a lot of sense. So yes, I think they are waiting 12 more days, they want to see what happens, and then they’ll make the call after that.”
Colby vs Ali expected to be the co-main event on that card.