“Funky” Ben Askren may be the first to admit that he really needs a win this weekend.
Set to take on BJJ legend Demian Maia in the main event of UFC Singapore, Askren feels that a loss this weekend might squander his UFC title hopes. Speaking to Submission Radio, the former Olympic wrestler explained how crucial the match up with Maia is at this stage in his career.
“This is huge,” said Askren. “If I don’t get this win, I may be in trouble… If I don’t win this fight, I’m knocked way, way, way down the rung. So I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I’m gonna go in there and mix it up, and then after that we’ll have to see where it goes.”
Askren’s UFC tenure thus far has been an interesting one, to say the least. His promotional debut came against former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, a fight that saw Askren take grueling damage before he was able to lock up a controversial submission win in the first round.
His next fight came in June against Jorge Masvidal, who handed Askren his first career loss in just five seconds, taking the cake for the fastest knockout in UFC history. Now ranked as the No 11. welterweight in the UFC, Askren looks to use his dominant NCAA wrestling to defeat perhaps the greatest grappler in MMA history.
Maia has struggled against strong wrestlers in the past, with his three most recent losses coming from Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley, and Kamaru Usman.
“It’s fun, because I’ve been watching Demian for years,” said Askren. “I scouted him when Tyron fought him. I actually tried to emulate his style for Tyron to make it as believable as possible. Tyron stopped 27 takedowns, so I think I very adequately emulated Demian’s style for that fight…”
Askren hopes that, with a win this weekend, he will find himself in position to call out a top-ranked welterweight to keep his title aspirations alive.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to get a title shot [next],” Askren said. “I think a win over Demian Maia puts me back up into the upper echelon of the welterweights. I think then I can call out someone else who’s very highly ranked. And then a win there puts me in that realm where I could be getting a title shot.”
What do you think? Will Ben Askren ever hold a UFC title? Or will Demian Maia get his 28th career victory? Let us know in the comments!