Over the course of a decade, wrestler Ben Askren never lost a fight. So great was the potential that he might prove his claim of being “the best fighter in the world”. Now, however, he’s lost two fights in a row after falling to Demian Maia (28-9-0) at UFC 162 in Singapore.
Fight Night 162
It may not have been a championship fight, but the main event bout scheduled for October 26th had everyone talking. Maia was coming in with a seven-fight winning streak and Askren was recovering from that devastating 5-second KO by Jorge Masvidal during UFC 239, but if his confidence was rocked he didn’t show it. Promoting the fight he had opinions on everything from the lack of takedown skills amongst BJJ fighters to Colby Covington, as well as how he’d been preparing for Maia by working with a submission specialist.
The general consensus among fans, pundits and odds specialists sites like SkyBet was that Askren was the favorite to win the fight. Sure, Maia had that winning streak behind him, but ‘Funky’ was hungry and eager to win, especially since the world was waiting for him to prove whether he was championship material or not.
Surprisingly for two world-class grappling specialists, Maia and Askren kept the majority of the first two rounds of the five-round fight standing. Their standup was stiff and awkward, where Askren was the early standout and landed a number of shots on Maia’s face.
With two minutes to go in Round 2, ‘Funky’ took the 41-year-old to the canvas, but the BJJ World Champion slickly reversed position and attempted a submission.
It was a similar story in the third round. Askren briefly held a dominant position, but Maia reversed it and took full mount. Smoothly transitioning into the back mount, he locked in an RNC at 3 minutes 54 sections. Askren tapped out with just a single tap.
Demian Maia doesn’t just think or say he’s one of the best grapplers in the world. Multiple BJJ World Championship titles and 14 career submission wins more than attest to him being just that. He’s a formidable opponent, through and through, but Askren made mistakes during their bout that he paid for with a loss. If he hadn’t made those mistakes would the outcome have been different? Possibly…
In the aftermath of the fight, however, Askren – a man with a record of 19 wins, 2 losses and 1 no contest – brought up the R-word. Claiming that retirement is something he is “definitely” considering – “I’d be lying…if I said I was not” – after just two losses in his professional career the once boastful fighter claims that he has “a lot of things I want to do in my life…I spend 30 hours a week on MMA related stuff…Can I place my time better somewhere else?”
Some might be tempted to say he’s acting the part of a sore loser, but it’s more like having to deal with the harsh cold reality of the professional MMA game. Not every fighter is destined to be the next Nate Diaz, BJ Penn or Anderson Silva. Titles come and go, fame and purses increase and decrease accordingly, but a fighter like Askren – who does still have a lot left to fight for – shouldn’t be so eager to turn his back on the sport after only losing two fights in ten years.
In all likelihood, he probably won’t retire anytime soon, at least not until he’s been able to back up his claims of being able to beat everybody in his division. And as for him being the best in the world, “I think the answer to that is yes, I just have not proven that yet.”.
Following Askren’s loss, another self-proclaimed “best grappler in the world” has emerged from the spheres of social media. Bellator’s Dillon Danis, aka ‘El Jefe’, has decided that he is the world’s number one submission fighter, despite having fought only two times in professional MMA…
Meanwhile, No. 7 ranked Corey Anderson (12-4) will be hoping to showcase his substantial grappling skills against the “fun” Johnny Walker (17-3) come UFC 244. The light heavyweight bout will be worth a watch, especially since the ever-serious ‘Overtime’ Anderson has declared he’s “not buying into the hype” over the Contender star.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. For more MMA coverage, check out our sister site at MMA Sucka.