put his Olympic wrestling skills on display Thursday night at Bellator 33, controlling Lyman Good
on the ground for the better part of five rounds to win a unanimous decision and take the Bellator welterweight title. It was an entertaining fight, with Askren controlling most of the way but Good nearly pulling out an Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen style finish from his back in the closing moments.
"It feels great," Askren said afterward. "Bellator builds warriors, and even those who hate me have to admit, I'm a freakin' warrior."
It only took Askren about 15 seconds to secure a takedown and get on top of Good on the ground. But even though Askren is a two-time NCAA wrestling champion and member of the 2008 Olympic team, Good looked good on his back against Askren, landing punches from the bottom, staying active and eventually getting back to his feet, at least briefly. Askren did get Good back down and stay on top of him for almost the entire round, which was probably enough to win him the round on the judges' cards, even though I would have given the round to Good as the more active fighter.
Askren got Good on his back early in the second round as well, but this time Good wasn't able to maintain the pace he had in the first round. The second round consisted mostly of Askren staying on top of Good in full mount and staying in complete control, making it a round that Askren had to win on all the judges' cards.
It was more of the same in the third round, with Askren getting the mount early on once again. Askren landed a series of right elbows that were getting through and causing swelling around Good's left eye, although they weren't doing enough damage to stop the fight. Askren appeared to be content to win a decision rather than finish the fight.
The fourth round consisted of -- big surprise -- Askren getting an early takedown and staying in mount. Surprisingly, midway through the fourth the referee ordered a stand-up even though Askren had Good mounted. But Good wasn't able to take advantage of the gift from the ref, as Askren secured another takedown and ended the round on top.
In the fifth round Good had to know he needed a knockout, and he tried to turn it into a boxing match, landing a couple of good jabs early on. When Askren secured a takedown and got on top once again, it appeared that he was just going to stay on top and smother Good until the fight ended. But when Askren briefly went to his feet, Good landed a huge upkick that knocked Askren down, then sunk in a triangle choke, transitioned to an arm bar and appeared to be close to forcing Askren to tap out.
Showing the heart of a champion, however, Askren managed to pull himself free, get back into mount and stay on top long until the final bell sounded.
"The upkick didn't hurt that bad," Askren said afterward. "But the triangle was pretty close."
The judges scored it 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47 for Askren, who improved his record to 7-0. Good falls to 10-1.