Ben Askren carries a perfect 13-0 record ahead of his One FC title bout on Aug. 29. | Will Fox/Sherdog.com
Ben Askren once again has his sights set on MMA gold.
The four-time NCAA All-American, two-time national wrestling champion and onetime Olympian will challenge Nobutatsu Suzuki for the One Fighting Championship welterweight title at One FC 19 “Reign of Champions” on Aug. 29 at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Askren has been labeled a “boring fighter” by critics because of his reliance on his wrestling skills. However, he has finished each of his last three opponents, two by technical knockout and another by submission.
Incumbent One FC champion Suzuki earned the inaugural title with a unanimous decision victory over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Brock Larson in March. Suzuki made his One FC debut against Phil Baroni, who himself was a two-time All-American wrestler at Nassau Community College. Askren scoffed at the idea that those experiences could have prepared Suzuki for what he is about to face.
“Baroni was a two-time All-American? I doubt that ... maybe at some podunk tourney,” Askren told Sherdog.com. “Not a chance neither of their wrestling is in the same universe as mine. On top of that, both [Baroni and Larson] are old and not very well-conditioned athletes. I am a whole different beast, and Suzuki is going to feel that.”
Ten of Suzuki’s 11 wins have come by knockout or technical knockout, and his lone defeat was the result of a submission against former Sengoku and Shooto champion Keita Nakamura.
“I am going in the cage for complete domination,” Askren said. “How the finish will happen, I am not really sure.”
What does Askren foresee beyond Suzuki?
“Keep on winning,” he said. “That is what I do.”
Askren spends most of his time training at Roufusport in Milwaukee but has shifted parts of his past two camps to Evolve MMA in Singapore. All professional Evolve MMA fighters are paid employees of the organization; as such, they each work as instructors for the organization. While Askren trains, he also teaches through his Olympic-level wrestling. In turn, he receives instruction from other world champions in muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing.
After vacating the Bellator MMA welterweight title to sign with One FC, the undefeated Askren made his first appearance for the Asian powerhouse in May, submitting Bakhtiyar Abbasov with a first-round arm-triangle choke to snap the Azerbaijani prospect’s nine-fight winning streak. The “Funky” 30-year-old dismissed the idea that he was still looking for a path to the UFC.
“At this point, I am not concerned with that,” Askren said. “I’m in a very good place, and One FC is a great organization that is huge in Asia.”
However, Askren admitted he would like to face reigning UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks at some point. The two competed against one another as high school wrestlers in 2002, with Hendricks walking away victorious. Askren recently fired a number of shots across the “Bigg Rigg” bow via Twitter.
“I’d like to beat up Johny,” Askren said, “regardless of whether or not he holds the belt.”