Ben Askren is Set to Shake Up the UFC
Former ONE and Bellator Welterweight Champion, Ben Askren, has been semi-retired for a while. But it seems like a new era is being ushered in for the world of MMA and it is starting to look a bit more like other major sports. However, in this case, MMA is the league, and the fighting organizations are the teams. What do we mean by this? Demetrious “Mighty Mouse’ Johnson and Ben Askren have effectively been traded. ONE gets the former UFC flyweight champ, and the UFC gets the former ONE welterweight champ. That said, this isn’t a true trade —but it’s more fun to think of it this way—both fighters have been let out of their contracts to free them up to sign new ones. That said, there had to be heavy negotiations along the lines of. ‘You release yours; I’ll release mine,’ which does make it very trade-like.
So What Does This Mean For The UFC?
MMA odds at Heritage Sports and other top betting outlets could be flipped on their heels as Ben Asken could walk into the UFC as a Top-5 contender. A recent Twitter poll posted by MMAjunkie asked the question to thousands of followers: Where does Ben Askren belong in the official UFC rankings? 68 percent believe that Askren should walk into the UFC in the Top-10. Over half of those (36 percent) believe that he is an instant Top-5. Even the pundits on USA Today Sports agree that Askren should be right around the No. 5 ranking.
So, we are likely to see a shift in the rankings among the top fighters in the UFC. It will be interesting though, because the average UFC fan has most likely never heard of Askren until now. Can Dana White effectively sell a match between, say, Ben Askren and Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tyron Woodley?
Joe Rogan and Brendan Schaub said in a conversation on Rogan’s Podcast that they believe Ben could beat Khabib. Even Tyron Woodley stated that Askren would ‘wreck’ Nurmagomedov. Woodley also backed up his RoufusSport teammate by stating that George St. Pierre ‘wouldn’t stand a chance’ against Ben Askren.
“Khabib is a ‘G’ but Khabib ain’t never fought nobody like Ben. He ain’t never fought nobody like Michael Chandler. Those guys would wreck him on life.”
“GSP would never stand a chance against Ben. Ben thrives against guys’ offensive onslaughts and GSP’s whole thing was always timing. If you ever see some video a long time ago, Ben Askren grappling against Jake Shields and I’m going to tell you this one thing — the highlights of the video were not on that video. Ben is just on a different level.”
— Tyron Woodley
One of the biggest impediments of a legitimate fight between Ben and Khabib is weight. It would be nearly impossible for Askren to drop to 155, but Khabib fights smaller than he is. It wouldn’t be hard for Khabib to come up in weight. Nurmagomedov could make 170, but a Super Lightweight Catch at 165 would also be doable for both.
Askren has been calling out everyone from lightweight to welterweight, so it is likely that one high-profile fighter or another will take him up on his offer. Whoever takes the first fight should not underestimate Askren just because he’s never fought in the UFC. He’s a world-class wrestler that only lost twice in his NCAA career. He’s an Olympian and a two-time welterweight champion.
One thing is for sure: the UFC is about to get a bit of a shakeup, and it is going to be exciting.