Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC on ESPN+ live on your computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
Ben Askren had a world of hype surrounding him when the Ultimate Fighting Championship signed the former One Championship and Bellator MMA welterweight king last November. That excitement has evaporated in recent months with many fans calling for the former Olympic wrestler to hang his gloves up.
Askren was on the receiving end of the fastest knockout in UFC history at the hands of Jorge Masvidal back in July at UFC 239 and then put on a disappointing display against Demian Maia in October at UFC Singapore, where he lost via a third-round rear-naked choke.
“Funky” said after the fight that he was unsure if he wanted to retire from the sport after the loss, but his last opponent in Maia, who was a guest on the recent episode of ESPN’s Ariel Helwani MMA Show, said he would like to see the popular 35-year-old continue fighting (via MMANews.com):
“I think he’s still pretty tough. The problem is when he lost to Masvidal a lot of people think, ‘Ah; he lost in five seconds,’ this kind of thing. But that happens. Everybody knows everybody that fights, a knockout can happen. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good and I think he’s one of the toughest guys in the division, and I think he should keep fighting.”
Maia credited Askren’s “awkward” fighting style and said he’s still a threat in the division because of his unorthodox striking which he uses to get the fight to the ground.
“His game is very hard for everyone in the division. Especially to the guys who [don’t] know really well grappling because he’s gonna take you down for sure, and the way he strikes people don’t understand well. But how he hides his head and how he closes the distance. It’s something that is awkward to figure out. It’s not easy. People just think, ‘Oh this guy strikes. He has a beautiful style,’ and people say they think they’re a good striker, but he uses his striking efficiently to do what he wants which is get in the clinch.”