There’s a good chance that tonight isn’t the last time we see Ben Askren competing in combat sports.
Two years ago, Ben Askren made the difficult decision to retire from mixed martial arts at the age of 34 due primarily to hip issues. After having hip replacement surgery in 2019, the former ONE and Bellator champion felt it was time to move on from athletic competition, a world in which he had thrived for his entire adult life. There were no indications that Askren was second-guessing this decision or that we would ever see him fight again. Then, along came Jake Paul.
After knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson last year, Paul set his sights on MMA fighters for his next bout. After trash-talking on social media, Askren and Paul eventually agreed to fight in a special-attraction bout we will bear witness to tonight. Contrary to the initial public perception, however, this may not be the last time we see Askren compete. In fact, if a compelling offer comes along, he isn’t ruling out a return to the sport in which he was a champion, though he admits it’s a long shot (via BJPenn.com).
“Highly unlikely,” Askren said on Just Scrap Radio about an MMA comeback. “If the right opportunity presented itself I would consider that opportunity but I don’t think so.”
Besides the lucrative payday, Ben Askren also cites the motivation for getting in shape for his decision to fight Jake Paul. But now that he prepares to follow through on it tonight, he isn’t so sure that he won’t explore the celebrity-boxing idea a couple more times in the future.
“When I retired from fighting, I said I never wanted to make a career out of fighting again. But, it’s like, I needed a reason to train anyway,” Askren said. “I had my hip surgery on September 1. December 1, I rolled around and it’s like I can finally start working out,” Askren said. “I was really heavy, I was like 216, I needed to lose some weight, I’m fat as shit. For me, I can’t lose weight for no reason, so I needed a reason. It’s been fun for me and with boxing, I’m learning something new which is fun. I’m not going to do three boxing matches a year or nothing, but if I call out some other dope, YouTuber and will fight him next year, yeah. I’m not going to 20 of them but I might do two or three.”
Tonight’s Paul vs. Askren event can be purchased for $49.99 on PPV and will be available to stream live on Triller Fight Club.
Who do you think wins tonight? Ben Askren or Jake Paul?