UFC welterweight star Jorge Masvidal has dished out some surprising praise for his former opponent Ben Askren.
Masvidal faced Askren at UFC 239 in 2019. In what was one of the most shocking and memorable moments in the promotion’s history, “Gamebred” knocked out the relative newcomer in just five seconds. Having secured the record for the fastest knockout in UFC history, Masvidal went on to collect the ‘BMF’ belt against Nate Diaz and grew into one of the biggest stars in combat sports.
Askren, meanwhile, would fight just once more in the UFC in a losing effort against Brazil’s Demian Maia. And despite collecting a heavy pay check, the Iowa native failed to add a more positive memory to the back-end of his career when he faced YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul earlier this year. A first-round knockout defeat seemingly signaled his final competitive appearance.
But despite suffering brutal knockouts against Masvidal and Paul, “Gamebred” believes Askren is extremely hard to beat, even for the most elite strikers in the game.
During an appearance on the Punchin’ In podcast, the former two-time welterweight title challenger suggested Askren’s 19-0 record before his UFC debut is a true reflection of the 37-year-old’s talents and ability to beat anyone.
“He can make your life hell if you are not prepared for him. I feel like he can beat any fucking striker in the world. He is just a kryptonite to anybody that’s a good grappler, (or a) good striker. You have to have certain tools to beat him.” (h/t EssentiallySports)
While Masvidal admitted that “Funky” may not have ever been the greatest athlete, he pinpointed the former Bellator and ONE Welterweight Champion’s mental toughness as his biggest strength. The Miami-born fan favorite used Askren’s debut victory over “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler as an example.
“Definitely not the greatest athlete, but one of the more stronger mental dudes. I mean just the fight with Robbie Lawler showed you how tough he was.”
While Askren retired from MMA following his 2019 loss to Maia, which signaled back-to-back losses for the first time in his decade-long career, Masvidal continues to fight at the highest level of the sport. Most recently, “Gamebred” entered the Octagon with UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman for the second time in less than a year. In the UFC 261 headliner, Masvidal was brutally knocked out by “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
Following consecutive losses to the champ, Msavidal’s title aspirations have taken a significant hit and he’s yet to announce a return to action. While many have called for a rematch with Nate Diaz, UFC President Dana White has suggested that a matchup with long-time rival Leon Edwards makes the most sense for the 36-year-old.
What do you think is next for Jorge Masvidal after back-to-back championship fight defeats against Kamaru Usman?