For 10 years, Ben Askren never lost a fight. Now, he’s lost two in a row and he’s not sure what to do next.
On Saturday in the main event of UFC Singapore, Askren was submitted by Demian Maia. This, coming off the heels of his record-breaking KO loss to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239 has left Askren pondering his MMA future and, speaking to Ariel Helwani, Askren admits that might be it for him inside the cage.
“I mean retirement is definitely something I’m considering,” Askren said. “I would be lying to you if I said I was not. It’s a time-cost analysis. I have a lot of things I want to do in my life. I’m a really busy guy. I have a lot of things I‘m passionate about and love. Not training specifically but to and from setting stuff up, I spend 30 hours a week on MMA related stuff and ‘Can I place my time better somewhere else?’ is definitely a thought process that crosses my mind.”
After making his MMA debut in 2009, Askren won 18 fights (with one no-contest thrown in there for an eye poke stoppage), claiming world titles in multiple organizations. But despite all this, UFC President Dana White was never all that interested in signing Askren. Then, last year, things suddenly changed. Askren, who had just decided to retire from MMA, was one half of a landmark moment in the sport, when the UFC traded Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in return for Askren. Askren, who had long maintained he was the best fighter in the world, was finally going to get his opportunity. Things have not exactly played out that way for Askren though and, though he believes he was doing well against Maia before making a critical error, now “Funky” is left to ponder whether sticking around is worth it to him.
“That being said, two more things, if I may,” Askren continued. “All I wanted was an opportunity. That’s all I ever said I wanted. And I got my opportunity so it would be hard to be bitter or disgruntled in any way because I had the opportunity I wanted. I have not been able to execute on that opportunity and that’s on me. So that is kind of one thought process and the other thought process is, part of me wants to fight more. Like I said, I thought I was doing really well in the Demian Maia fight...
“Part of me knows I can compete at this level. Obviously, Demian Maia is a guy who has fought for a world title at multiple weight classes. His only losses in the last five-plus years are to the three guys, Marty [Kamaru Usman], Colby [Covington] and Tyron [Woodley]. So, I guess that is something I need to sit and think about and what is next for me.”
Askren certainly can compete at the highest levels of the sport. His debut came against former UFC champion Robbie Lawler who he submitted, albeit controversially, and Askren also holds a win over the recently crowned Bellator champion and welterweight grand prix winner Douglas Lima. But Askren says he’s not sticking around to prove he’s one of the best. He’s still competing because he wanted to prove he is THE best, and a second straight loss makes that a much more daunting situation.
“I was retired already, one time. I already did that,” Askren said. “And I didn’t come back for fame - although that’s probably happened - I didn’t come back to make money - although that’s happened as well - the only thing that I came back for was to try to prove I was the best in the world. So the distinction now is that after the Masvidal fight, if I beat Demian Maia I’m probably one more good win away from the title shot. Now I look at my path and I think, ‘Oh sh*t, I’m kind of far away.’
“Fortunes can change fast but I would say probably minimum of three fights but it could be upwards of four or five, who knows? So I don’t need to prove I’m a good fighter, I don’t need to make more money, I don’t need to be more famous. I don’t really want any of those things all that badly. What I wanted to do was prove I’m the best in the world and now I’m looking at how far that is and how long it’s going to take me to get there and trying to way all that out.”
It’s a lot to consider. Unlike other sports, becoming the best in the world in MMA is as much a product of timing as it is sporting excellence. As one of the bigger stars in the UFC, Askren’s path to a title shot is likely shorter than most but back-to-back losses still means he’d have some work to do to get there. But despite suffering those two losses, Askren still believes he could be the best fighter in the world, which perhaps gives Askren fans hope that they haven’t seen the last of Funky.
“Obviously it’s been proven that today, or Saturday night, or July 6th, I was definitely not the best in the world,” Askren said. “But are there ways that I can beat everybody in my division? I think the answer to that is yes, I just have not proven that yet. So I guess I’ll say for this time, no I am not but is there a path where I am, I think the answer to that is still yes.”
Nate’s top moments on the mic.
Nate Diaz interview.
Cowboy to Conor.
Lima believes he’s the best WW in the world. He might not be wrong.
The Co-Main Event. Discussing the BMF title and all the things that happened before.
Anik & Florian. Looking back on UFC Singapore and ahead to UFC 244.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Dustin on Nate.
He wanted it he just couldn't come to terms with ufc. They offered us the main event at msg but he would only agree if it was on his terms. I was tired of playing games with the guy and that's when i decided to address a injury I had been dealing with. Now you all know#facts https://t.co/OU50fYP0pB— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) October 28, 2019
And thats the whole truth with me and Nate situation ....also I jumped the gun when news came out that he failed a test. He's always been a guy who pushed for clean eating and clean sport. I shouldn't have. Doesn't change the fact that I still want to beat his ass— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) October 28, 2019
Bless him he’s trying.
Conor feeling all coachy.
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I’m not sure what does be going on in most trainers and fighters minds. What’s the most danger in a fight? Being clocked clean while over extended, without your feet under you and your defence fully open. Yes? Yes. Lights out. Good fucking night. So why the fuck are 99.9% of fighter and coach I see, all about wacking shots in full wack, with ZERO defensive or positioning responsibilities in there? You are setting yourself up to be clattered badly. Know that. Calculate how many punches you throw in practice Versus how many times you slip/roll/parry/pull/block in practice. It’s crazy. I estimate 1000 to 1 is the difference. In that ball park anyway. If you don’t practice these and just overload on punches and kicks and not much else it’s going to be your downfall. I can sit and put every ounce of power into a pad strike or bag strike. But imagine that pad is not there. You’re going out on your face. Even without being hit. Even with the pad there and you make full clean contact, too much force in the shot leaves you completely open. You can’t retract your guard or get your legs under you in time. You come in against a smooth operator he is going to take the point of impact away, or catch it cleanly for counter, and then what? Wide open. Sitting duck. Does my nut in seeing it all the time, and why I was always more spar heavy in my rise. Unrealistic practice develops too many bad habits to the already uneducated. Even if they do work defensive work it’s usually unrealistic. One example say, on giving shots to parry. But half throwing the shot for parry. This will then develop the habit of reaching for the soft punch. Who is that helping? That’s walking them into danger when the real pace of shot comes. And that’s just one small example. Get clued in guys. I am fully clued in, now more than I ever was, and I’m going to rip this game a new smile when I get back. I am also really eager to progress into real work with my son, who now at 2.5 years of age is beginning to piece together combinations. It’s all he wants to do. We’ve been training since the jump also. Day 1! Get with the program young fighters and coaches! Get with the fucking program. Otherwise..
Honestly, I love this.
I mean, he’s kind of right. But when you look at his pre-UFC career, it’s not the greatest.
Judging Ben Askren's career based on what he's done coming to the UFC from One Championship is like judging Eddie Alverez' and Sage Northcutt's careers going to One Championship from the UFC. It's unfair to all and you can't do it.— Din Thomas (@DinThomas) October 28, 2019
Salahdine Parnasse (13-0-1) vs. Ivan Buchinger (36-6); KSW 52, Dec. 7.
Herbert Burns (9-2) vs. Nate Landwehr (13-2); UFC, Jan. 25.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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