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Ben Askren Not Buying Into Own Hype



There was a considerable amount of buzz surrounding Ben Askren's MMA debut in February. The two-time NCAA wrestling champion, 2008 US Olympian and two-time winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy, which is the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman, is now 2-0 in his MMA career, defeating his first opponent via TKO and the second via arm-triangle choke. Neither fight has lasted longer than 90 seconds.

However, when Askren recently spoke to Fight! Magazine, he seemed very critical of his game, not to mention refreshingly honest about his future prospects.

"As far as, like, feeling comfortable in there, I'm ready to go when I go in there. Obviously, I know my striking is poor. I feel very comfortable on the ground. I feel like even if I get in trouble, I can get myself out of trouble real easily. As far as striking goes, it could take a while. You know, but I always got the takedowns in my back pocket. So, I know if I need to, I can take someone down, which is a life saver.

"... I doubt I'll ever reach anywhere near the level of striking as I do wrestling. There's a slim hope with jiu-jitsu, you know, because it's so similar to wrestling, but if I get 50% as good in striking as I am in wrestling, I'm going to do just fine."

It sure is nice to hear young fighters not buy into their own hype. Askren's humility reminds me a lot of Cain Velasquez, who was very critical of his dominant victory over Cheick Kongo at UFC 99.

Askren, a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and the wrestling coach at the American Top Team school in Columbia, Mo., said that he hopes to resume his MMA career in August.