Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, perhaps one of the most disliked fighters in all of MMA, doesn't care what you think about him or his fighting style. Askren was heavily booed in his last fight earlier this year, and told fans if they don't like the ground game they should go watch boxing. Askren believes many people want to see him lose, and if you're one of them, he encourages you to prepare for disappointment.
There are a number of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters who are criticized for having a wrestling-based style that is viewed as unentertaining by fans, but perhaps none more so than Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Askren (10-0) is one of the most decorated and effective amateur wrestlers in the sport, and has dominated every opponent he's shared with thus far in his nearly three-year professional career.
Numerous talented wrestlers who have come into MMA begin to abandon their base after a few fights in favor of the more fan-pleasing striking game.
The 28-year-old is relentless with his wrestling attack, so much so that in his last fight against Douglas Lima at Bellator 64 --a fight Askren won via underwhelming five-round decision-- the fans booed with such ferocity that the champion felt it was necessary to take the microphone and deliver those attendance that night in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, a message.
"I was told you Canadian fans like fighting," Askren said in the in-cage interview. "Man, I haven't seen an ass whipping that good in a long time. If you don't like the ground work, there's a sport they call boxing. That's not as fun, though. I suggest you keep on coming here and watch my ass whippings."
Since those statements, Askren has come under even more heat from the MMA community. Askren's next opponent, Karl Amoussou, who "Funky" faces at Bellator 86 on Jan. 24, 2013, has repeatedly called Askren "boring" and attacked the fighting style of the Duke Roufus trained athlete.
For Askren, the opinion of the fans and his opponents matters not, he simply chalks up all the hate to the fact people may not like him, or they want to see him lose. Which is fine, because Askren has no problem with continuing to rack up wins using his wrestling and "disappoint" those who dislike him each and every time he steps in the cage to compete.
"...People want to see me lose for whatever reason -- my attitude, my style, whatever it is," Askren said on Friday's Bellator 86 pre-fight media conference call. "You know when I get on top and I get on top fast and frequently, they know the bottom guy has zero chance to escape and zero chance to submit me, so, you know, it's a rather boring fight for them because what they want to see is they want to see me lose, but they know it's not going to happen in their hearts so, you know, they got to sit there disappointed for 25 minutes because they don't get to see what they want.
"And you know, come next Thursday, the fans are going to be disappointed again because there's no way that belt's leaving my waist."
Whether you choose to never watch him compete again or tune in every time with the hopes he receives a beating, Askren is who he is, and he's proud of his ability to dominate with wrestling.
Regardless of if you love him or hate him, Askren remains firm in his stance that his style is never going to chance, so you better get used to it.
"You know I'm never going to change my style. I am who I am and I'm not afraid to be that guy," he said. "I've had a lot of time since my last fight and I have made serious improvement to a lot of areas, but nevertheless I'll never be as good at everything else as I am at wrestling, so that's always going to be my base,
"I'm not shy to admit that and I'm actually proud that I grew up a wrestler and that's my background."
Bellator 86 goes down Jan. 24, 2013, from the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Along with the Askren vs. Amoussou headliner, Muhammed Lawal makes his highly anticipated Bellator debut against Przemyslaw Mysiala in the final fight of the Bellator light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal round.