Ben Askren was arguably one of the best welterweights of all time with a record of 18 wins and 0 losses when Ben came into the UFC. There were super fights with Khabib and GSP on the table for the Funky One.UFC fans instantly loved Ben Askren, and there was a big hype going into his debut against Robbie Lawler. Ben defeated Robbie in a tough fight and was one win away from a title fight against the champion Kamaru Usman. But he lost the title shot when he had his first loss in his 9-year career of MMA against Jorge Masvidal who brutally knocked Ben Askren out in 5 seconds. Since then MMA fans have been split with the opinion whether Ben Askren is as good as his stats suggest.
But how is Ben Askren dealing with the loss? And how can he get back to the top of the welterweight division, which has never looked better than it is now?
In his interviews with Ariel Helwani’s MMA show, Ben has mentioned multiple times that he has been dealing with the loss fairly well. In his recent appearance on the Helwani’s show, Ben said
“For the last 9 years I have been undefeated, I spent the best part of my career outside of the UFC and I finally get my chance to prove that I am the best in the world. I go in there and beat Robbie Lawler and then I get the guy I want to fight in Jorge Masvidal.i am gonna get a title shot if I win and I messed it up.”
Now what does Ben Askren has to do to get into the conversation of being one of the greatest to ever do it? Most of the people are going to agree if you put forward an argument that Ben Askren is one of the best wrestlers in mixed martial arts. But what matters the most when you are considering someone to be the greatest of all time is the body of work that fighter has gone through. The only fighter who is considered as the greatest and has not lost a single fight is Jon Jones and even Jon has an asterisk beside his name because of the PED controversies. Other than him Anderson Silva has lost many matches, Dimitrios Johnson has lost a match against Henry Cejudo, Daniel Cormier has lost a couple of fights against Jones and still, they are in the conversation for the greatest fighter ever. it’s because the body of work they have gone through is so impressive, you can’t deny these fighters the GOAT spot.
But if we look at the career of Ben Askren, the best part of it has been outside the UFC. Ben fought some tough fighters over Bellator and One FC but except for few fighters such as Douglas Lima and Jay Hieron, and none of them are well-known fighters. Robbie Lawler was the toughest MMA fight in the career of Ben Askren, and he was able to submit Lawler before getting knocked out himself. But a defeat against Jorge Masvidal indeed puts Ben way down the ladder.
But you are always as good as your last fight. That’s how MMA and MMA fans work. Jorge had 2 knockout victories and suddenly he was in the title picture, while Leon Edwards has an 8 fight win streak. Hence it would not be insane to picture Ben Askren fighting for the title if he can win his next couple of matches and that’s what Ben said in his recent interview with Ariel. Ben has the Damian Maia fight coming up, someone who is arguably the best grappler in UFC. If Ben can overcome Maia’s grappling with his funky wrestling and then get another victory over a top 5 welterweight then he is back again in the title picture for sure.
A lot will depend on the fight between Colby and Usman. If Usman loses, then Ben and Usman can fight since these two already have some issues that need to be settled with.
But to even have a conversation on whether Ben Askren is the best welterweight, something which is Ben’s 9 years long goal, Ben will have to go a long way.