This past Monday, on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Ben “Funky” Askren announced his official retirement from mixed martial arts. The former Bellator and ONE Welterweight Champion, decided to take his talents to the UFC in order to cement himself as the best fighter in the world by being a champion in three difference promotions.
The former Olympic wrestler from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC 235. Askren arguably had the toughest fight to debut at with a welterweight bout against former champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14-0). With a controversial stoppage via bulldog choke in the first round after being nearly put out by Robbie, Ben’s UFC career started off rather uneasy. This controversial win set him up to fight against the most electrifying fighter the promotion has seen in years, Jorge Masvidal. Masvidal (35-13-0) famously attained the fastest knockout in UFC history by blasting Ben Askren’s head with a flying knee before Jon Anik even got to finish the Modelo sponsored advertisement. This loss seriously brought Askren’s career into question and if he was good enough to compete with the ranked fighters in the UFC Welterweight division. After a couple months to recover and train for his next bout, Ben made his return to the cage. In his final fight of his MMA career, Askren fought and lost via rear naked choke in the third round against one of the best grapplers the UFC has ever seen, Damien Maia (28-9-0).
After looking back on his UFC stint, many would say that he was a complete failure. Calling the wrestler over-hyped and boring, the masses most likely dismissed the news of Askren’s sudden retirement rather quickly. However, I see the legacy that Ben left behind as nothing but positive. To the close followers of mixed martial arts and other fighters themselves, Askren had an amazing career. On top of being champion in two different promotions, he was also undefeated before entering in the UFC. Additionally, the fights he took while in the UFC were some of the hardest ones he could have participated in and should not be looked down upon. Sure, Ben Askren’s UFC career didn’t pan out the way he had envisioned, but he took the chance and was honest about it. Ben took defeat better than anyone and played a big factor in making 2019 an interesting year for the MMA world. When looking back on the legacy that Askren is leaving behind with his career, we should be thankful for many things; someone having the guts to enter in an extremely talented division, the entertaining trash talk, and of course, that flying knee.