Ben Askren seems to be content away from the UFC. | One Championship
It’s been nearly a year and a half since Ben Askren, one of the world’s top welterweights, made his debut for Singapore-based mixed martial arts promotion One Championship.
The former Bellator 170-pound king has run roughshod over the competition in his new home, finishing his first two foes inside of a round en route to capturing the organization’s welterweight strap. Askren’s superiority has been so evident that his most recent bout against Luis Santos was regarded as competitive, as the Brazilian managed to thwart a few early takedown attempts before the April 24 bout was halted 2:19 into round one due to an inadvertent eye poke from the champion.
That was enough intrigue for the promotion to rebook the Askren and Santos for One Championship “Pride of Lions” on Nov. 13. However, the man known as “Funky” was not especially impressed with his opponent’s abbreviated effort.
“I definitely wasn’t ready for the fight to be over. A lot of people wanted to give him credit, but the fact of the matter was he didn’t land a punch,” Askren said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “He landed a couple leg kicks. He stuffed a few takedowns, which is more than most of my opponents can say. But at the end of the day stopping a few takedowns and landing some leg kicks doesn’t win a damn fight.”
Still, Askren relishes the opportunity to persevere through some fight night adversity. Most of his recent appearances, even dating back to his Bellator reign, have been lopsided victories.
“It would have been nice to show people what I was made of. Some people they don’t get a few takedowns they start getting nervous, and they fade. That’s just not in my character,” he said. “I was excited to make a fight of it, and I’m excited to get back in the ring. Maybe he’ll give me a little fight again, which would be nice.”
Of course, there are those who will never be satisfied unless Askren is showcasing his skills in the UFC’s Octagon. The former NCAA national champion wrestler at the University of Missouri is not among those wondering “what if,” however. Askren remains content to toil in relative obscurity in Asia, where only the most dedicated stateside fans can find his fights on a pay-per-view stream in the wee hours of morning.
“One of the big things is I try not to worry about things I can’t control. It wasn’t my decision not to fight in America. I was never offered a contract to fight in the UFC,” Askren said. “People conveniently forget that frequently. So what I did was I took the best offer on the table, which was One Championship. They’ve treated me very well since that point. I’ve had fun, and they always pack the house in Asia. I don’t care if you’re an Asian fan or an American fan, I’m happy to perform.”
Askren would also like to point out that he doesn’t feel untested, despite the perceived lack of competition. While he may not be competing against them at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he knows what it’s like to go head-to-head against some of the sport’s best welterweights.
“I think when the contract was signed with One FC a long time ago...I kind of had to put [fighting in the UFC] out of my mind. I had to forget about this. Fighting these guys is not a reality,” Askren said. “At the same time, I’ve been in the gym with Tyron Woodley. I’ve been in the gym with Nick Diaz. I’ve been in the gym with Carlos Condit. I’ve wrestled with Robbie Lawler. I understand what these guys are bringing to the table.
“It’s not like I don’t understand what their level is. I understand it. So people are acting like I’ve never went with these guys or don’t understand how good they are, which is not the case.”
At this point, it isn’t a given that the 14-0 Askren will ever test his mettle in the UFC, and the payday that could potentially accompany a championship run within the Las Vegas-based promotion is not all that alluring.
“I’m not really concerned. I’m getting paid really well to do what I’m doing. I drive a 2007 Prius with 200,000 miles on it. I don’t care about having a fancy car. I don’t have a lot of the wants and needs that a lot of people have where I would need to make a $1 million a fight,” he said. “It would be nice if it happened, but I’m already running a few successful businesses, I’m making a good amount of money to fight and I don’t have expensive tastes. Any way you slice it, I’m gonna be good to go.”