Bellator Champ Askren Milwaukee-Bound, Set to Join Roufusport Camp

By Jordan Breen Apr 9, 2011
On a night in which he dominated a Wisconsite, Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren announced that the Dairy State will play a prominent role in his professional future.

Following his commanding unanimous decision win over Nick Thompson in a non-title affair at Bellator 40 Saturday night in Newkirk, Okla., Askren revealed that he will relocate to Milwaukee in the near future to train under Duke Roufus at Roufusport.

“I will, for the first time in my life, be a full-time professional fighter,” Askren said at the post-fight press conference inside the First Council Casino. “I am gonna move to Milwaukee to train under Duke Roufus. If you thought I was okay now, I might get a little bit better now that it’s full-time.”

Askren, a two-time national champion and Don Hodge Trophy winner while at Missouri and a 2008 U.S. Olympian in freestyle wrestling, made his pro MMA debut in February 2009 and has quickly compiled an 8-0 pro mark. Last October, Askren earned his first major MMA hardware, as he dominated Lyman Good to become Bellator’s welterweight champ.

“I’ve been coaching at Arizona State the last couple years for wrestling. It was really hard for me to leave those guys,” Askren explained. “I really have a passion for coaching, so it was really, really hard for me to tell those guys ‘See ya,’ but I’m at the point where I’m trying to fight at a high level.

“I’m traveling every weekend to coach wrestling tournaments, it’s hard,” he added, “but I figure I’ll be in this game three to five more years. I gotta put it in full-time.”

Askren, who says he still plans to try to wrestle for the U.S. at the 2012 London Games, began his career training with American Top Team Missouri, before accepting the assistant coaching position at Arizona State, whereupon he spent most of his gym hours at the Lions’ Den in Scottsdale. Asked why he opted to join the Roufusport camp, Askren was confident in head trainer Roufus, the man who has architected the rises of fighters such as Anthony Pettis, Erik Koch and Pat Barry.

“I just really think he’s a guy who can take me to the next level, everywhere,” Askren said of Roufus.

The 26-year-old Askren will make the first defense of his Bellator welterweight crown later this year, as he awaits the winner of the forthcoming Jay Hieron-Rick Hawn 170-pound tournament final.
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