Ben Askren was once considered one of the best grapplers in MMA. The former Bellator and One Championship welterweight champ revealed the fighter whom he would have wanted to fight had he been in any other weight class.
Before coming to the UFC, Ben Askren had an aura surrounding himself. The undefeated fighter was often considered the welterweight equivalent of Khabib. Just like Nurmagomedov, Askren could take his opponents down anytime he wanted. While he didn’t inflict as much damage, the 2008 Olympian took control of his opponent on the ground.
Last year, Khabib was asked if he would ever want to fight ‘Funky’ Ben Askren. This was before Askren fought in the Octagon. Khabib said that he would first want to see how Askren performs in the UFC. He added that Askren was smashed before in ONE Championship as well.
After arriving over to the UFC, Askren floated the idea of a fight between him and Nurmagomedov. However, he wanted the fight to be for the crowning of the champ of a new 165 pounds division. Askren said that he was just a couple of wins away from making that possible. Sadly, ‘Funky’ could never get those couple of wins.
Askren’s time in the UFC was completely different from what anyone would’ve expected. When the UFC shipped off one of their most dominant champions in Demetrius Johnson to ONE FC in return for Askren, they would’ve wished for a more marketable star. While Askren checked the box on marketability, his Octagon performance was just not enough to back it up.
During his first round in the UFC, Askren faced more trouble than his entire professional career. Former welterweight champ Robbie Lawler almost knocked him out before he managed to secure a submission victory. However, Lawler’s reaction right after the intervention by referee Herb Dean suggested that it was a bad stoppage.
Things went even more downhill for Askren after his UFC debut. He went on to be on the receiving end of the fastest UFC knockout of all-time against Jorge Masvidal. A loss against Demian Maia, later on, led to his retirement from the sport.
Maybe it was due to his age or the troubles with his hip, which later required a replacement surgery, Askren could never become the fighter he was capable of under the bright lights of the UFC. Had he managed a few dominant performances against quality competition, he could have opened the door to a 165-pounds division and a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
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