MILWAUKEE – Newly minted UFC welterweight Ben Askren is booked to face ex-champ Robbie Lawler in his octagon debut.

But the former Bellator and ONE Championship titleholder said he tried to hustle his way into a headliner against Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington to save UFC 233 in the process.

“I volunteered to fight Colby, I volunteered to fight Usman, and they’re so scared,” Askren told reporters backstage at UFC on FOX 31, where he served as a guest fighter.

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UFC 233 recently was canceled – or postponed, depending on your purview – when the promotion was unable to secure a suitable headliner. Askren (18-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), now officially booked to face Lawler (28-12 MMA, 13-6 UFC) at UFC 235 in March, accused Usman (13-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) of ducking him.

“Usman is the ultimate hypocrite, and he’s so dumb, he can’t even put his sentences together,” Askren said. “He’s like, ‘I’m not a hypcrite. I said earn your shot.’ Well, no, that’s exactly why I said you’re a hypocrite, because that’s literally what Colby said to you. And then they pretend they don’t hear me.”

Usman might not have responded to Askren’s tweets lately, but he’s no stranger to the curly-haired wrestling standout. Recently, his team claimed they were open to an interim title bout against Askren, who welcomed the offer.

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Covington (14-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), meanwhile, has said he won’t accept anything less than a fight with champ Tyron Woodley after being promised a title bout. Usman has said he’d “flatline” Askren if they ever fought. But also first on his list of priorities is Woodley.

After nine straight wins, Usman believes he deserves it. Not only that, he allegedly has a bout agreement to face Woodley, which he’s not about to give up for a go-round with Askren – no matter what the UFC newcomer says.

To Askren, it’s his personality and verbal skills that distinguish him from his competitors.

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“Despite the fact that they’ve been in the UFC for four or five years, despite the fact that Colby won an interim and Usman’s pushing, their social media followings are still miniscule compared to mine,” Askren said. “Despite Colby running his stupid-ass (“Make America Great Again”) gimmick, despite Marty from Nebraska trying to act like he’s Kamaru.

“And so they’re just uninteresting people. So I volunteered to fight either of them to save the Anaheim card, and they both of them said no. That’s the frickin’ truth.”

Although initially “pissed” about being forced to delay his UFC debut, Askren said he eventually realized more time wasn’t an entirely bad thing. Fighting at UFC 233, he had nine weeks to shake off the rust of retirement and face a top-10 fighter. Now, he’s got two extra months.

“Now that I have a little more time, it’s probably better for me,” Askren said.

For more on UFC 235, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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