Image source: Ben Askren's Instagram (@benaskren)
Former Bellator and One FC welterweight champion, Ben Askren, has announced his retirement from the sport of MMA.
Askren announced his retirement to ESPN via the Ariel Helwani MMA Show. Askren has discussed the possibility of retirement following his second loss in a row to Demian Maia admitting that it was a long way to a title shot.
Ultimately it appears to have been a hip problem that tipped Askren over the edge to call it a career as his doctor has informed Askren that he is going to require a hip replacement.
“I’ve been having hip problems, and I finally had the discussion with my doctor, and I need a hip replacement. So, man, that’s it for me. I’ve been thinking about this for a week and what I was going to say, and I’m filled with gratitude for how great of a career I’ve been able to have, even though obviously in the end it did not turn out to go my way.”
Askren wanted it to be known that he isn’t blaming his losses on his hip injury and says that his opponents were just better than him on the day.
“I don’t want people to think I’m using my hip injury as a reason why I lost. I lost because I wasn’t good enough, plain and simple, my opponents beat me, they were better than me. And I want that to be said out there.”
Askren joined the UFC late into his MMA career at the age of 34. At one point in looked as though Askren may never join the promotion as he publicly went back and forth with Dana White. The pair took shots at each other following failed negotiations after Askren’s departure from Bellator; Askren finally signed with ONE FC.
However, in November 2018 the UFC reached an unlikely deal with ONE FC in a trade that saw Ben Askren join the UFC in exchange for Demetrious Johnson heading in the other direction.
Askren was very clear that his plans were to come in and work his way to a title shot as fast as possible and he was thrown in the deep end against Robbie Lawler in his first UFC bout.
Askren, somewhat controversially, overcame a rocky start to the fight and went on to submit the former welterweight champion. A huge feather in the cap of Askren and he was well on his way to accomplishing his goals.
However, it was against Jorge Masvidal that Askren’s plans began to unravel. Masvidal scored the fastest knockout in UFC history catching Askren with a flying knee and ending the bout in just five seconds. Askren then proceeded to drop a submission loss to Demian Maia and suddenly the two-promotion champion and previously undefeated Askren was 1-2 in his UFC career and a title shot looked very far away.
Some may have called Askren a one-dimensional fighter, but that dimension is widely regarded as the most important in MMA and Askren had a fantastic amateur pedigree. Askren was a two-time NCAA champion and wrestled in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Askren is a very well spoke individually and is known for his quick wit and sharp microphone skills to hype a fight so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him assume some commentary or analyst roles within the sport moving forward.