During last week’s UFC seasonal press conference, Ben Askren and Kevin Lee had a brief exchange regarding a past training experience. Ben Askren claimed to take down Kevin Lee with so much ease that it aroused guilt within him, while Kevin Lee recounted a hesitation to hurt Ben Askren with strikes due to Askren’s poor standup skills. In a recent media scrum, Kevin Lee took a moment to break down what took place in this exchange, in a sense, telling a story about the telling of a story (transcript via MMA Junkie):
“We both told two halves of the same story,” Lee said to reporters backstage in Atlanta. “As he’s moving around, he’s just coming at me real square, real slow. And I’m like, OK, I’m stepping into his gym, for the first time. I’m 20 years old, I’m not even in the UFC yet. Duke is kind of giving me the chance, so I’m like, ‘I don’t want to go there and just knock this dude out.’ Even though … it probably could have happened.
“The good things is, this ain’t a wrestling match. If we ever was to fight, then he’ll see. He’s still hanging his head on one takedown that he got over me, so what does that tell you?”
Ben Askren is one of the more vocal fighters on social media, often trash talking potential future opponents even prior to entering the UFC, and that outspokenness certainly carried over into the promotional press conference last Friday. Kevin Lee was not bothered when Ben Askren directed his aim his way but rather can find an appreciation in what Lee, like others, considers to be troll-like behavior from Askren:
“He’s just speaking louder than the person next to him,” Lee said. “And if that’s his truth, and that’s what he sees, then how can I hate? It makes it more fun for me, really.
“I don’t see why people even turn down and back down from them type challenges. I kind of like a little bit of back-and-forth. And I want to see what you’ve got to say, too. If dos Anjos could do it – the man speaks fluent English. He’s going to act like he don’t, but he could. But some people, if that ain’t you, that ain’t you. But you can tell that’s Ben Askren, when he do that. He’s a troll, like in real life. That’s really what he do. So I don’t expect nothing different from him.”
Do you agree with Kevin Lee? Is Ben Askren a real-life troll?