Ben Askren accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time during his fight career, which is why he’s not exactly filled with regrets now that he’s retired.
The 2008 Olympian made a seamless transition into mixed martial arts where he was undefeated through his first 20 fights, won a pair of titles in Bellator MMA and ONE Championship and eventually participated in a first-of-its-kind trade to join the UFC.
He later retired in 2019 following back-to-back losses to Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia but more importantly Askren required hip replacement surgery that signaled the end of his career whether he liked it or not.
Looking back now, Askren doesn’t lament the choices he made regarding the fights he took or the promotions he signed with over the years. Even though it took him a decade to finally make his first appearance inside the UFC octagon, Askren still feels no remorse for the time he spent in Bellator and ONE.
“As far as the career path I took, had I been able to foresee the future, I don’t think so,” Askren answered on his Twitter page when asked if there was anything he would do different with his career. “When I was 3-0 and Bellator offered me that deal, I thought that was a really great deal. I thought it was an outstanding opportunity, which it was. My time in Bellator went really well and at the end of that when my negotiation came up, it didn’t work out with Dana [White] and the UFC. To this day, I still don’t know why so I couldn’t change that.
“I found a great home in ONE Championship, everything went well there. I retired, I came back. So from that perspective, I wouldn’t change anything.”
I get asked often if there is anything I would have done differently with my MMA career. Here ya go. pic.twitter.com/TJEqd7XPgS— Funky (@Benaskren) August 10, 2020
While he wouldn’t change the path he took in terms of his career, Askren admits there is one area of his skill set that could have altered the course of history.
On the day he decided to become a fighter, Askren was already one of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers to ever enter the sport and he showcased a dominant grappling game in every single bout he won.
But Askren says if he would have added one particular weapon to his arsenal, he could have been even better.
“The one thing I think I would have changed if I could go back, I didn’t ever think I was going to fight until 2019,” Askren explained. “I never thought that would be the case. I thought I’d be retired way before. I never really had a great jiu-jitsu coach until really the end of my career when I found Marc Laimon. I really enjoyed him.
“But before that, there was really a mix of different jiu-jitsu coaches at [Roufusport] and I think that my potential to choke people out was untapped.”
During his 22-fight career, Askren won six of those bouts by submission but the majority of his victories came either by TKO after mauling an opponent on the ground or earning a decision on the scorecards.
As he reflects on the biggest weapon at his disposal, Askren knows his wrestling was better than just about anybody else in the sport and a high-level jiu-jitsu game would have complimented his skill set very well.
“I was the best pinner in the modern era of college wrestling and I think if I would have went to work with say the [John] Danaher Death Squad or Marcelo Garcia, I could have really tapped into that at a much higher level,” Askren said. “But at the same time, I really liked being coached by Duke [Roufus], that was going well and I always thought, hey I’m good enough on the ground, I need to work on the striking end of the takedowns. I always thought hey I’m going to be done in a couple of years and then it just ended up so happening that I fought until effing 2019.
“If I would have put some more time into jiu-jitsu, I think I could have gotten better choking people. Hey that’s how it goes sometimes. That’s what I would have done a little bit differently had I been able to go back and do it again.”