It’s safe to say that ‘Funky’ has had a rough time in the UFC so far…
Ben Askren talked the talk, but he hasn’t walked the walk. His UFC record stands at 1-2 after he got knocked out and put to sleep in his last two fights. This definitely isn’t what he was expecting when he signed with the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
The former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion is a renowned wrestler. However, his overall MMA game has proved lacking at the highest level. So, today we’re going to analyse some of the reasons why his UFC career has stalled so sharply.
When he first joined the roster he was being talked about as a future champion. Is it wrong to say that Colby Covington is the fighter we though Ben Askren was going to be?
One of the main factors is the abilities of Askren’s opponents. During his time with ONE, he defended his title against the likes of Zebastiam Kadestam and Agilan Thani. These men are good fighters, but they’re limited in their ability. For example, Sweden’s Kadestam is a very violent knockout artist. But his ground game is simply non-existent.
For a wrestler like Asken, he was the perfect opponent. It’s worth noting that Kadestam just dropped ONE’s welterweight title to Kiamrian Abbasov. The Kyrgystani’s base style is Greco-Roman wrestling. Douglas Lima was arguably the best fighter Askren has beaten. But that was back in 2012. Would the same result occur today?
MMA has evolved, but Askren hasn’t. In the UFC, fighters are becoming increasingly well-rounded. Even Damian Maia’s striking has looked solid in his last couple of fights and he was catching Askren with his straight left as Askren came in. There was a genuine risk of a knockout.
Askren has become a victim of his own success. He goes forward with his hands in front of him, leaving very little protection. Jorge Masvidal knew this and made Askren pay with that savage flying knee. So did Robbie Lawlor, because he dumped ‘Funky’ on his head. Meanwhile, as that spinning backfist against Maia showed, Askren’s striking from distance is barely functional against elite opposition.
One of the other points is that the UFC arguably didn’t want him to win. Askren’s poor relationship with Dana White is notorious at this point. He said that if he could have asked for anybody to fight first, it wouldn’t have been Robbie Lawlor. Askren was very lucky to get through that bout with a controversial win.
Then he faced off with Jorge Masvidal. Of course, we’ve no idea how things would have gone if ‘Gamebred’ had missed that flying knee, but the point is that the Cuban-American is a killer. Finally, Maia is probably stylistically the worst match-up possible for a wrestler like Askren.
‘Funky’ wants to grapple and dirty box. Maia wants to go down to the floor and Askren found out why. At 35 was he just too old to transition to the intensity of the UFC?