At his core, Ben Askren was always a wrestler, and that will remain his primary focus following his retirement from MMA.
As a two-time NCAA champion and 2008 Olympian, Askren has always been most passionate about wrestling, even when he was an undefeated fighter with title reigns in both Bellator and ONE Championship.
After a brief stint in the UFC and a major hip surgery expected in 2020, Askren’s fighting career has come to a close. And while he’s amassed a lot of knowledge about MMA during his time in the sport, he won’t be making the move to coach – except to work with one exceptional UFC prospect.
“I’m not coaching at Roufus – I’m only coaching Maycee [Barber],” Askren revealed when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I will not be coaching MMA.”
With three Askren Wrestling Adademys already open and two more on the way in 2020, the retired welterweight has plenty on his plate. But he’ll still have involvement with Barber in her training camps going forward.
The 21-year-old flyweight wants to become the youngest champion in UFC history and is currently preparing for a January showdown with Roxanne Modafferi. She plans on having Askren in her corner for the fight.
“With Maycee, I’m coaching wrestling, and I do have a great perspective on how the wrestling ties into everything else, because I had to do everything else myself,” Askren explained. “Some of these wrestling coaches haven’t fought a day in their lives, so they don’t know how wrestling ties into everything else. I actually had to go out there and do it.
“As far as Maycee’s case, I didn’t ever think I was going to be coaching fighting. I didn’t think that was in the cards. They talked me into it, so I am. She’s a lot of fun to work with.”
As for the next generation of wrestlers, Askren wants to keep things in house. He would seem a prime candidate for coaching a major college wrestling program. But he’d rather do things at his own academy.
“I think that ship has sailed (on coaching in college),” Askren said. “Max [Askren] and I are opening AWA’s No. 4 and No. 5 next year, and so I think that’s what I’ll be doing.”