Why is Ben Askren in UFC?
The collegiate wrestling powerhouse who went on to compete in the Olympics had a respectable mixed martial arts (MMA) career, capturing welterweight titles in both Bellator MMA and ONE Championship.
Then fate intervened and “Funky” found himself in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), widely-considered the highest level of MMA in terms of competition. If Askren wants to go down as an all-time great, he’ll need to beat the best of the best.
If he wants to pick and choose more favorable match ups to pad his retirement fund, that’s okay too, but it might not be in line with his current social media campaign, where Askren continues to badger ... well, just about everybody.
“So if you don’t want to run that [Robbie Lawler fight] back, then what are you doing here?” Covington asked MMA Fighting. “You’re not out here to prove that you’re the best. You’re just trying to look for easy matchups and he’s just looking for that good payday and then he’s going to ride off into the sunset, because he’s a 36-year-old virgin. He’s got probably a year or two left of fighting in him. I don’t know if he’ll crack the top five by the time he’s 40. Just being honest.”
Askren made his Octagon debut in the UFC 235 co-main event earlier this month with a submission win over former welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler; however, “Funky” got destroyed for most of the fight and may have escaped with a blown referee call and not a legitimate victory.
In fact, the finish was controversial enough for promotion president, Dana White, to call for an immediate rematch, an idea that was not immediately embraced by Askren. Probably because he’s happy to have escaped his “Ruthless” match up with his teeth intact.
As for Covington, he’s in line for a welterweight title shot opposite Kamaru Usman at some point later this year. Depending on how things shake out in either direction, it’s not unreasonable to think we could see Covington vs. Askren in 2020 or beyond.
Assuming “Funky” is, indeed, out here to prove he’s the best.