Ex-Bellator, One Titleholder Ben Askren to Face Jake Paul in Boxing Match on April 17

By Tristen Critchfield Jan 26, 2021

Retired mixed martial artist Ben Askren is making his return to combat sports to face YouTube star Jake Paul in a professional boxing bout on April 17.

Both Askren and Paul announced the matchup on social media following an initial report from ESPN. A weight class for the bout, which will take place under the Triller Fight Club banner, has not been determined. The combatants will fight in a 20-by-20 ring and wear 10-ounce gloves. The event will air on pay-per-view, but a location has not been finalized.

Askren retired from mixed martial arts in November 2019 to have hip replacement surgery and underwent a successful procedure this past August. The 36-year-old known as “Funky” ended his MMA tenure after back-to-back losses to Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia in the UFC. A two-time NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Missouri, Askren was unbeaten in his first 20 fights, capturing titles in Bellator MMA and One Championship along the way. He is not, however, known for his standup abilty. Askren has bested the likes of Robbie Lawler, Shinya Aoki, Douglas Lima, Andrey Koreshkov and Lyman Good over the course of his career.

"I know Jake Paul is enjoying pretending he is a fighter," Askren said. "I think on April 17 he is going to have a rude awakening to what being a fighter is really like. Jake has led a privileged life and doesn't really know what the meaning of being a fighter is. I'm going to put his dreams to an end.”

Paul, 24, is a YouTube star, actor and rapper with more than 14 million followers on Instagram. The younger brother of Logan Paul made his boxing debut in January 2020, when he defeated fellow YouTube celebrity AnEsonGib — whose given name is Ali Loui Al-Fakhri — by first round TKO. His next win, a knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson on the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. undercard in November, went viral.

"Ben Askren is a two-time NCAA champion, a world champion in two different global mixed martial arts organizations and has less losses on his record than Conor McGregor," Paul said.

"Me, on the other hand, I started boxing two years ago and I'm still going to knock his ass out faster than [Jorge] Masvidal. These MMA guys think because they throw punches they know how to box. The world complained because I knocked out a basketball player and not a real fighter. So now I'm giving the people what they want by taking on a 'real fighter.' After Ben Askren is added to my knockout meme collection, what can anybody say? Thank you to Triller Fight Club for giving me the platform to once again put a man to sleep. April 17, it's lights out for Askren.”

Triller’s last event, the aforementioned Tyson vs. Jones Jr. card, reportedly exceeded more than 1 million pay-per-view buys for the exhibition contest between the two boxing stars. The upcoming card is expected to feature other boxers, MMA fighters and celebrities competing in boxing matches on the undercard of Askren vs. Paul.


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