Ben Askren went 10 years undefeated to start his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, winning 19 straight fights and claiming the Bellator MMA and ONE Championship Welterweight straps. And he did it all without really knowing how to fight.
That’s according to former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) “champ-champ,” Daniel Cormier, who had some fun at his good friend’s expense by joking that “Funky” was close to becoming UFC’s next 170-pound champion without never really learning how to fight.
“Listen, I love Ben, he’s my boy, but I don’t know,” Cormier said during an interview with Ariel Helwani (via BJPenn.com). “There was a point that I was scared — I was like ‘Ben’s about to be a world champion.’ He was undefeated, he beat Robbie Lawler. I was like ‘this dude’s about to be a world champion and he doesn’t even know how to fight.”
After making his long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 235, Askren kept the train rolling by picking up a submission win over Robbie Lawler, though it wasn’t without its fair share of controversy. Four months later, however, Askren’s undefeated streak came to an end in record time, as Jorge Masvidal knocked him out with a flying knee in just five seconds, ending his hopes at a shot at the division strap.
Still, Cormier can’t help but to giggle at the possibility of seeing Askren as UFC’s champion with what he describes as less-than-stellar fighting skills.
“Ben never tried to learn to fight,” Cormier joked. “He was about to be world champ. I love Ben, he’s my boy, but boy… I’ll tell you: Ben was about to become a world champ without learning how to fight.”
Of course, Cormier is mainly poking fun at Askren’s striking, as “Funky’s” world-class wrestling was obviously more than good enough to earn him multiple world titles and an eventual invite to UFC. But that wouldn’t stop “DC” from clowning on his boy for getting out-struck by Demian Maia.
“He was out there with Demian Maia, I’ve seen Demian Maia fight for like 15 years, and I’ve never seen him out-strike somebody like that,” Cormier said. “Dude’s just out-striking Ben Askren.”
After losing to Maia at UFC Fight Night 162 via submission, “Funky” decided to call it a career. And while he didn’t have the best mark inside the Octagon, Askren’s legacy as one of the more dominant 170-pound combatants in the game was already set.