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Ben Askren: Hello from the losing side

Hello, It’s the UFC

You’ve gone one and two since signing over with us from ONE FC

You beat Lawler, controversy

Was Robbie done or did the fight get stopped early by Herb Dean?

 

Hello, It’s Sean Shelby

You got slept by Masvidal in seconds from a flying knee

Then in Singapore, fight three

You were choked by Maia in the third, he made it look easy.

 

Where are your submissions you promised us?

We lost D.J. for you.

 

Hello from the losing side

Your wrestling is kind of tired

And you called out Colby

For all the trolling he’d done

But he’s winning and you’re not

It might be time to move on.

Is this what the UFC expected from Ben Askren since signing him?

To say that One Championship may have gotten the better end of the Demetrious Johnson-Ben Askren trade may be an understatement. Askren, who had petitioned for a UFC roster spot, now finds himself on the losing end of the spectrum for the first time in his career. It isn’t uncommon for fighters to lose back-to-back fights, but the hype around Askren, since joining the UFC, never gave us the illusion he’d be the one doing it. Most recently, Askren lost to Damien Maia in Singapore yesterday via third round submission.

While Maia is now on a three fight win streak, it isn’t unfounded to believe he isn’t the same fighter he once was. Of course, Maia’s record includes losses to Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman but Askren was favored in this fight. While the fight went three rounds, Maia appeared to be in control from the beginning. Askren had his moments, specifically in the second round, but rounds don’t matter when you get subbed halfway through the match.

“I was landing the punches I wanted to land,” Askren stated in his post fight interview.

“I was getting take downs, I believe I had four or five take downs. I made a really bad decision. I remember thinking i won the first two rounds,” he continued.

But Askren was humble in his defeat. He gave Maia the respect of being one of the best grapplers.

“I guess I was overconfident,” he admitted.

“I guess there is a reason he’s the best grappler in the division, possibly in MMA ever,” he finished.

After this loss, the obvious question is: where does Ben Askren go from here? He wasn’t given easy fights to work his way into the promotion. His first three opponents are ranked fighters in a loaded welterweight division. And as previously stated, One Championship may be on the right side of this trade with Demetrious Johnson. But Askren can still bounce back from this tough three-fight stretch so let’s not fold his hand yet.

What fights can you slate for Askren moving forward?

I think the UFC can take two different approaches with Askren that could play out well. The first option would be to replay the fight against Robbie Lawler. Run that fight back and see if Askren can prove he’d win that fight without a possibly early stoppage. If he wins that fight, he can continue fighting ranked opponents to improve his record. However, if he loses that fight, he might have to play the gate keeper role for fighters on the cusp of cracking a top 15 ranking.

The second option would be to inverse the order previously stated. Very seldom has a fighter been given such a Murderer’s Row to start a UFC career. The UFC could give Askren some tough opponents that are ranked outside of the top 15. Fighters such as Geoff Neal, Michael Chiesa and Belal Muhammad would be excellent fights to make. It wouldn’t lighten the load Askren has, but giving him such fights could allow the UFC to gauge where he sits in that division. And, winning any of those fights would solidify him staying in the rankings. The UFC could run into scheduling conflicts with some of those fighters, but the idea of giving him such fighters is the point.

Regardless of the plan moving forward, Askren still has drawing power in this sport. He isn’t out, he just needs to notch some wins. He is still marketable and fight fans will watch when he is slated to fight. Did his stock drop? Yes. Is his signing a failure? Not yet. Askren has some work to do because anymore losses does put his UFC future in jeopardy. But we can pump the brakes a little on Askren being a complete bust in the UFC.