Stephen Thompson was one of the spectators who watched Ben Askren knocked unconscious in his UFC 239 bout against Jorge Masvidal. Thompson has experienced firsthand what it’s like to fight “Gamebred” but, unlike Askren, Thompson’s specialist style of fighting was enough to earn him a unanimous decision victory two years ago. In Thompson’s case, it was his reliable karate/kickboxing style that give him the nod on points, so with that result on his résumé, Thompson feels entitled to give Askren some advice on the “Funky One’s” one-dimensional style of fighting (Transcript via The Body Lock):
“Ben Askren, he is a very strong wrestler, probably the best in the division, I think. But then again, when you’re in the fight game like this, some of the other things you have to improve,” Thompson said in a recent interview with Submission Radio. “It can’t just be wrestling all the time. You got to continue to work on your striking, get better at that. His wrestling and jiu-jitsu is ridiculous, but every fight starts on your feet.”
Stephen Thompson is not limiting his appraisal of Askren’s fighting style to the Jorge Masvidal fight. He also points to Askren’s UFC debut as evidence of his criticism:
“You saw in the first fight [vs. Robbie Lawler], I thought he got knocked out, I thought it was over at first. Ben Askren, he’s a tough boy. Golly, he’s a tough boy. That’s what wrestling does. When you wrestle your whole life, you got to be a tough dude to wrestle. I get most of my injuries wrestling. But he had that first fight in the UFC with Lawler, I thought Lawler was going to finish him. He got tagged up, I thought he was knocked out. Next thing you know, that controversial submission.
“But then, watching that, it’s like, you got to work on your striking. You got to work on your head movement, you can’t just walk forward. Masvidal just took better advantage of it, he knew exactly what he was going to do… If I had to work with him, I would definitely work a little bit more on his movement, his fighting stances, some head movement. Movement is everything when it comes to the fight game.”
Do you agree with Stephen Thompson’s advice for Ben Askren? Does he need to adjust his fighting style?