Benjamin Michael Askren (born July 18, 1984) is an American former professional mixed martial artist and amateur wrestler. Askren was the former Bellator and ONE Welterweight Champion, remaining undefeated for over a decade before competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
|Born||Benjamin Michael Askren|
July 18, 1984
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Weight||170 (77kg; 12 st 1 lb)|
|Division||Welterweight (170 lbs) (2009–2016, 2019) |
Middleweight (185 lbs) (2016–2017)[a]
|Reach||72 in (183 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Hartland, Wisconsin, U.S.|
Evolve MMA (2014–2017)
|Wrestling||NCAA Division I Wrestling |
Olympic Freestyle Wrestling
|Years active||2005–2010, 2013–2015, 2019 (freestyle wrestling)|
|Professional boxing record|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|University||University of Missouri|
|Notable relatives||Max Askren (brother)|
|Notable club(s)||Sunkist Kids|
|Notable school(s)||Arrowhead High School|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
An accomplished grappler, he was the 2008 US Olympic Team Member and National champion and the 2005 Pan American champion in freestyle wrestling, a two–time NCAA Division I national champion (four–time finalist), and three–time Big 12 Conference champion (four–time finalist) for the Missouri Tigers, and was the second wrestler to secure multiple Dan Hodge Trophies (the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman Trophy) in folkstyle wrestling. He was also a world champion in submission wrestling.
Early career and folkstyleEdit
Askren was introduced to the sport of wrestling by his father Chuck at age six, but only took the sport seriously when he started the sixth grade and joined a club. During high school, he became a two–time WIAA state champion out of Arrowhead High School in Wisconsin. Nationally, he placed in the podium at multiple US National tournaments in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman.
In college, Askren wrestled for the Missouri Tigers at 174 pounds, where he was teammates with future UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and future Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. During his freshman campaign (2003–2004), Askren won the Big 12 Conference Championships and placed second at the NCAA Championships, with both matches being against standout from Oklahoma State Chris Pendleton. During his sophomore campaign (2004–2005), Askren placed second at both the NCAA and Big 12 Championships, losing both championship matches to Pendleton. After being a runner–up for half of his career, Askren shined as a junior and a senior, becoming the third athlete to ever earn the Dan Hodge Trophy in multiple occasions, as he received the award in both seasons after compiling a combined 87–0 record. Throughout his career, Askren defeated multiple NCAA champions such as Jake Herbert and Keith Gavin. After a legendary run, Askren graduated with a 153–8 record (seven of the losses were handled by Chris Pendleton and one of them by Ryan Lange), two Dan Hodge Trophies and a Schalles Award, two NCAA championships, three Big 12 Championships and 91 pins, the third most in NCAA Division I history.
One of the most dominant collegiate wrestlers of all time, Askren's "funky" style relied heavily in unorthodox scrambling techniques and was known for his pinning ability as well as his massive afro. His peculiar and uncommon body shape for a wrestler allowed him to complete moves that his competition could not, thus constantly putting them in awkward positions. On January 9, 2012, it was announced that Askren would be one of six new inductees to the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
Despite his style relying heavily in folkstyle rules, Askren was able to adapt fairly well to freestyle wrestling after his graduation from college. After working on adapting his style during 2007, Askren claimed the US National Championship in April and followed up by making the US Olympic Team in June. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Askren defeated Hungarian István Veréb via fall in the first round, but fell in the quarterfinals to Cuba's Iván Fundora on points. Fundora was then defeated by Russia's Buvaisar Saitiev, thus eliminating Askren's chances of competing for a medal.
Askren was then asked if inexperience in the new ruleset was a factor, but he responded; "That wasn't it," he said with tears in his eyes, "I just wasn't good enough. I sucked."
Although Askren decided to pursue a career in MMA after the Olympics, he continued to compete in wrestling occasionally. In 2010, he avenged his Olympic loss by defeating Fundora in the semifinals of the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba. This came shortly after Askren won the Dave Schultz Memorial International. Later the same year, Askren defeated 2009 world silver medalist Jake Herbert in a folkstyle rules match at the Midlands Tournament. Askren also competed in the Agon Wrestling Championships and the Flo Premier League. In May 2019, Askren lost by technical superiority to five–time World and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs in the annual Beat the Streets benefit event.
After spending a little over a year in retirement from his MMA career, Askren announced a successful hip surgery in 2020 and revealed that he intends to return to competitive freestyle wrestling soon.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Askren made his professional MMA debut on February 7, 2009. It was held by Headhunter Productions at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center in Columbia, Missouri. He defeated Josh Flowers via TKO early in the first round.
Askren competed at the 2009 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship from September 26–27, in Barcelona, Spain. He won his first match against Toni Linden by arm triangle choke. He lost his second match to Pablo Popovitch, a veteran grappler he had trained with the previous summer, by figure four footlock early in the match. Popovitch went on to win the championship in the under 77 kg (169 lb) division.
Askren also competed at the 2009 FILA 2° World Grappling Championship. Askren faced the 2008 World Champion, Jacob Volkmann, in the 84 kg no-gi division. Askren out-wrestled Volkmann and won gold in the category.
Bellator Fighting ChampionshipsEdit
Askren was a participant in Bellator Fighting Championships Season 2 Welterweight Tournament. In his first fight, Askren defeated Ryan Thomas via technical submission at Bellator 14 on April 15, 2010. The outcome of the fight was controversial because Thomas protested the stoppage as soon as Askren released the choke.
After Jim Wallhead was pulled from the tournament, Thomas was given another chance to compete. Thomas defeated Jacob McClintock by TKO in the first round at Bellator 15 and was awarded a rematch with Askren. When the two fought at Bellator 19, Askren came out victorious again with a unanimous decision after controlling Thomas with wrestling for three rounds.
At Bellator 22, Askren defeated Dan Hornbuckle via unanimous decision with his superior wrestling dominating Hornbuckle for all three rounds, becoming the Bellator Season Two Welterweight Tournament Champion.
On October 21, 2010 in Philadelphia Askren took on the Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good. Despite being hit with a brutal upkick and almost getting caught in a triangle choke with one minute left, he was able to take down and control Good in every round. Askren won via unanimous decision (49–46, 48–47, and 50–45) to win the Bellator Welterweight Championship.
Askren next returned at Bellator 40 to fight and defeat Nick Thompson after taking down and controlling Thompson for all three rounds. Although Askren started off quickly in the third round with a spinning back fist and several other strikes, he was caught with an overhand right by Thompson, causing Askren to take down and control Thompson for the remainder of the round. Askren went on to win by unanimous decision (30–26, 30–27, and 30–27).
Following his unanimous decision win over Thompson in a non-title affair at Bellator 40 in Newkirk, Oklahoma, Askren revealed that he was moving to Milwaukee to train under Duke Roufus at Roufusport.
Next for Askren was a title defense against Karl Amoussou, the fight taking place at Bellator 86 on January 24, 2013. Askren once again used his top control wrestling to shut down his opponents grappling, and opened a cut on Amoussou's forehead with an elbow strike. The doctor stepped in between the third and fourth rounds, judging the cut too severe for Amoussou to continue.
In the final fight of his contract, Askren faced tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97. He dominated the fight with his wrestling and ground strikes, outstriking his opponent by a wide 248 to 3 margin before winning via TKO in the fourth round.
On November 14, 2013, following a negotiation period, Bellator announced they had released Askren from the company, and that he was now an unrestricted free agent.
Askren met Bakhtiyar Abbasov, who had been riding a nine-fight win streak, in the main event of ONE FC: Honor and Glory on May 30. He won the fight via submission (arm-triangle choke) in the first round, and proceeded to call out ONE champion Nobutatsu Suzuki, stating "Suzuki is going to bring me my belt. He can put it in the middle of the cage and give it to me, or I can take it the hard way!”
Askren faced Suzuki at ONE Fighting Championship: Reign of Champions on August 29, 2014. He won the fight via TKO due to strikes in the first round to become the new ONE Welterweight Champion.
Askren faced Luis Santos in the main event at ONE Championship: Valor of Champions on April 24. The fight was ruled "no contest" after an accidental eye poke from Askren at 2:19 of round 1 rendered Santos unable to continue.
In the next fight Askren beat Russia's Nikolay Aleksakhin at the ONE Championship: Global Warriors on April 15, 2016 by unanimous decision.
Askren then faced fellow veteran Shinya Aoki at ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit on November 24, 2017. Prior to the bout, he claimed this would be his last fight. He won the fight via TKO due to punches early in the first round. He retired from the sport after the win.
Askren left the door open for one last match if he was made an offer to "prove I'm the best welterweight in the world". He discussed the possibility of facing Georges St-Pierre, claiming "He doesn't want a title fight. He just wants to build on his legacy," adding that he felt he would be the perfect opponent for St. Pierre. The contest never materialized.
Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit
Askren made his UFC debut against the former UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler on March 2, 2019 at UFC 235. The bout was initially scheduled for UFC 233, but after the event was cancelled the fight was rescheduled for UFC 235. Askren won the fight via bulldog choke in the first round, through a controversial stoppage by referee Herb Dean. Replays appear to show Lawler's arm going limp and giving a thumbs up right after, which some attribute to Lawler slipping in and out of consciousness. Although controversial, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett explained that the commission had "no problem" with Dean's decision to stop the fight.
Askren faced long–time veteran Jorge Masvidal on July 6, 2019, at UFC 239. Leading up to the match, Askren utilized heavy trash-talk as usual. He was brutally knocked out with a flying knee five seconds into the first round, the fastest knockout in UFC history, ending his undefeated run in a stunning way.
Askren faced ADCC World Champion and MMA veteran Demian Maia on October 26, 2019, at UFC on ESPN+ 20, and lost the fight via technical submission in round three. This fight earned him the Fight of the Night award.
After a back-and-forth on social media, Askren fought YouTube personality Jake Paul in a boxing match on April 17, 2021, losing by TKO. The legitimacy of the match was questioned by fans and fellow MMA fighters. The match reportedly generated at least 1.45 million pay-per-view buys as per Triller. The legitimacy of the pay-per-view numbers have also been questioned by multiple personalities such as UFC president Dana White.
He is competitive in the sport of disc golf. In 2009, Askren finished ninth in the Amateur World Championships. Askren is sponsored by Discraft. He is also involved in cryptocurrency investing.
Askren co-hosts a few weekly wrestling podcasts: 'FloWrestling Radio Live' with Christian Pyles on FloWrestling, 'The Funky & FRB Show' with Front Row Brian on Rokfin and 'The T-Row & Funky Show' with two–time NCAA champion Tommy Rowlands.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
Mixed martial artsEdit
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|22 matches||19 wins||2 losses|
|Loss||19–2 (1)||Demian Maia||Technical Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Askren||October 26, 2019||3||3:54||Kallang, Singapore||Fight of the Night.|
|Loss||19–1 (1)||Jorge Masvidal||KO (flying knee)||UFC 239||July 6, 2019||1||0:05||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||19–0 (1)||Robbie Lawler||Technical Submission (bulldog choke)||UFC 235||March 2, 2019||1||3:20||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Return to Welterweight (170 lbs).|
|Win||18–0 (1)||Shinya Aoki||TKO (punches)||ONE Championship 62: Immortal Pursuit||November 24, 2017||1||0:57||Kallang, Singapore||Defended the ONE Welterweight (185 lbs) Championship. Vacated title after the fight.|
|Win||17–0 (1)||Zebaztian Kadestam||TKO (punches)||ONE Championship 58: Shanghai||September 2, 2017||2||4:09||Shanghai, China||Defended the ONE Welterweight (185 lbs) Championship.|
|Win||16–0 (1)||Agilan Thani||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||ONE Championship 54: Dynasty of Heroes||May 26, 2017||1||2:20||Kallang, Singapore||Defended the ONE Welterweight (185 lbs) Championship.|
|Win||15–0 (1)||Nikolay Aleksakhin||Decision (unanimous)||ONE Championship 41: Global Rivals||April 15, 2016||5||5:00||Pasay, Philippines||Welterweight (185 lbs) debut. Non-title bout; Aleksakhin missed weight (187 lbs).|
|NC||14–0 (1)||Luis Santos||NC (eye poke)||ONE Championship 26: Valor of Champions||April 24, 2015||1||2:19||Pasay, Philippines||Retained the ONE Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||14–0||Nobutatsu Suzuki||TKO (punches)||ONE FC 19: Reign of Champions||August 29, 2014||1||1:24||Dubai, United Arab Emirates||Won the ONE Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||13–0||Bakhtiyar Abbasov||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||ONE FC 16: Honor and Glory||May 30, 2014||1||4:21||Kallang, Singapore|
|Win||12–0||Andrey Koreshkov||TKO (punches)||Bellator 97||July 31, 2013||4||2:58||Rio Rancho, New Mexico, United States||Defended the Bellator Welterweight Championship. Later vacated title.|
|Win||11–0||Karl Amoussou||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Bellator 86||January 24, 2013||3||5:00||Thackerville, Oklahoma, United States||Defended the Bellator Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||10–0||Douglas Lima||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 64||April 6, 2012||5||5:00||Windsor, Ontario, Canada||Defended the Bellator Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||9–0||Jay Hieron||Decision (split)||Bellator 56||October 29, 2011||5||5:00||Kansas City, Kansas, United States||Defended the Bellator Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||8–0||Nick Thompson||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 40||April 9, 2011||3||5:00||Newkirk, Oklahoma, United States||Non-title bout; Thompson missed weight (170.8 lbs).|
|Win||7–0||Lyman Good||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 33||October 21, 2010||5||5:00||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States||Won the Bellator Welterweight Championship.|
|Win||6–0||Dan Hornbuckle||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 22||June 17, 2010||3||5:00||Kansas City, Missouri, United States||Won the Bellator Season 2 Welterweight Tournament.|
|Win||5–0||Ryan Thomas||Decision (unanimous)||Bellator 19||May 20, 2010||3||5:00||Grand Prairie, Texas, United States||Bellator Season 2 Welterweight Tournament Semifinal.|
|Win||4–0||Ryan Thomas||Technical Submission (guillotine choke)||Bellator 14||April 15, 2010||1||2:40||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Bellator Season 2 Welterweight Tournament Quarterfinal.|
|Win||3–0||Matt Delanoit||Submission (north-south choke)||Max Fights DM: Ballroom Brawl||August 28, 2009||1||1:15||Des Moines, Iowa, United States|
|Win||2–0||Mitchell Harris||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||Headhunter Productions: The Patriot Act 2||April 25, 2009||1||1:27||Columbia, Missouri, United States||Catchweight (175 lbs) bout.|
|Win||1–0||Josh Flowers||TKO (punches)||Headhunter Productions: The Patriot Act||February 7, 2009||1||1:25||Columbia, Missouri, United States||Welterweight debut.|
Professional boxing recordEdit
|1 fight||0 wins||1 loss|
|1||Loss||0–1||Jake Paul||TKO||1 (8), 1:59||Apr 17, 2021||Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
Submission grappling recordEdit
|Win||12–2||Gerald Meerschaert||Submission (anaconda choke)||Absolute Grappling Grand Prix at Wisconsin State Fair||August 5, 2011||Absolute||West Allis, Wisconsin, United States|
|Win||11–2||Rafael "Formiga" Barbosa||Points (23–0)|
|Win||10–2||Lyndon Viteri||Submission (arm-triangle choke)|
|Loss||9–2||Francisco "Sinistro" Iturralde||Advantage points (3–4)||IBJJF 2010 Nogi Jiu Jitsu World Championship||November 7, 2010||-82 kg (purple)||Long Beach, California, United States|
|Win||9–1||Jacob Volkmann||Points (3–1)||FILA 2009 Grappling World Championship||December 12, 2009||-84 kg||Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States|
|Win||8–1||Jeff Funicello||Points (4–0)|
|Win||7–1||Gabriel Kitober||Points (5–4)|
|Win||6–1||Bernardo Serrini||Submission (choke)|
|Win||5–1||Jacob Volkmann||Points (6–0)||USA Grappling World Team Trials||October 23, 2009||-84 kg||Phoenix, Arizona, United States|
|Win||4–1||Shannon Ritch||Submission (armbar)|
|Win||3–1||Shane Cross||Submission (north-south choke)|
|Win||2–1||Danny Rubenstein||Submission (D'Arce choke)|
|Loss||1–1||Pablo Popovitch||Submission (toe hold)||ADCC 2009 Submission Wrestling World Championship||September 26, 2009||-77 kg||Barcelona, Spain|
|Win||1–0||Toni Linden||Submission (arm-triangle choke)|
- Mixed martial arts show results Date: July 6th, 2019
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- Ryan Hockensmith (August 26, 2021). "Jake Paul loss just a distant memory for groundhog hater and buckthorn slayer Ben Askren". ESPN.
- Keller, Wade (March 26, 2018). "National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced Class of 2018, details on HOF Induction Weekend including Ross, Booker T, Animal". PWTorch.com. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
- Sherdog.com. "Ben". Sherdog. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
- During Askren's tenure in ONE Championship, he competed at 185 lbs. ONE Championship refers to their 185 lb division as Welterweight, but per the Association of Boxing Commissions in the United States, 185 lbs is considered Middleweight.