Polarizing personality Ben Askren is slated for his second UFC match-up when he meets Jorge Masvidal on the main card of this weekend’s (Sat., July 6, 2019) UFC 239 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
His debut in the Octagon resulted in a win, but it came with a huge amount of adversity. Former UFC champion Robbie Lawler slammed “Funky” on his head and nearly finished the fight early. Askren fought back to lock Lawler in a bulldog choke, and the fight ended in controversy. It appeared “Ruthless” had passed out from the hold. He clearly had not. The consensus was that the two welterweights should jump into a rematch, a sentiment Dana White initially echoed.
But Askren instead planned to fight the winner of March’s Jorge Masvidal vs. Darren Till. That turned out to be ‘Gamebred’ after he knocked out the British star. Askren is happy with what happened. He told UFC.com that the Lawler win showed his toughness to come back and beat a tough vet. He’s focused on his next challenge and is treating his next fight as a completely separate occurrence:
“I’m personally very okay with how that fight went. It showed my toughness and my grittiness. I’m going into this fight as a total separate entity. I’ve gotta go execute the game plan I want to, and if I do that, I think it’s going to turn out very well for me.”
Honesty Pays Off?
If it does indeed end in his favor, Askren thinks he could jump the welterweight title line. It’s hard to argue with that prognostication. Askren has quickly gained a huge following since being traded to the UFC from ONE Championship for Demetrious Johnson. And much of that is because of his social media presence. He thinks his bluntly honest views are a fresh viewpoint, and fighters who try to create a surface personality don’t like that:
“I try to be active on social media. I try to give my fair, honest opinion and assessment – regardless of how I fell about the person – of whatever the tweet or subject matter is. As my influence has grown, one of the most important things I can do is give a fair, honest assessment of stuff and not sugarcoat it or not say how I feel because I like the person or I have certain feelings. So that’s what I try to do all the time.
“I think the thing that, more than anything, besides my honesty, that gets under their skin is the fact that they’ve tried to create this persona; they’ve worked so hard. And I can just come in here and be myself and people like me. But what they don’t realize is if they were just themselves, they’d be much more relatable to fans. I think that really hurts a lot of people.”
Plans To Call His Shot
You can’t deny it’s working for him right now, and will continue to as long as he wins. Based on his scope of online attention, Askren believes he’ll get a title shot by defeating Masvidal this week. He’s going to call his move like he did after subbing Lawler, and if Usman turns it down, he even has a backup plan:
“I think there’s a good chance after this fight that I’m going to get a title shot.
“Just like last time, I’m going to call my shot. Last time I said I’m gonna go to London, and Masvidal and Till are fighting, and the winner of that will be ranked very close to where I need to fight. And now, two weeks after my fight here in Las Vegas, there will be Leon Edwards and Rafael Dos Anjos. So if I win this fight and ‘Marty’ [Kamaru Usman] decides to be scared and not sign the contract, then I will pick the winner of that fight.”
Will Ben Askren already deserve a shot at UFC gold if he beats Jorge Masvidal this Saturday?