Ben Askren was handed the first loss of his professional career at UFC 239. There, Jorge Masvidal threw a flying knee that knocked him out cold just five seconds into the fight. It was a shock to many, including ONE Championship CEO, Chatri Sityodtong.
Below is Sityodtong’s full thoughts which he posted on FaceBook.
“People have been bombarding me for my thoughts on Ben Askren. To save time, here is what I think:
1) Jorge’s flying knee was not luck. He drilled it, he planned it, he executed it. Jorge Masvidal deserves all of the props for pulling off a super hard, gutsy technique. It takes huge balls to go for it the way Jorge did, especially at the start of a high stakes fight. I am now a huge Gamebred fan.
2) A flying knee is a high risk, low probability technique with KO consequences. It rarely lands clean. However, if you land it clean, it is good night.
3) Despite this spectacular 5 second flying knee KO, it does not mean Jorge is a better fighter than Ben. If they fought another 100 times, Jorge would unlikely score a flying knee KO in 5 seconds ever again.
4) It is genuinely hard to say who is the better fighter. We never got to see their skills in action in any area of the game.
5) If Jorge had dominated Ben for 1-2 rounds and then scored a flying knee KO (or even won via unanimous decision), I would have agreed that Jorge is better than Ben.
It might sound counterintuitive, but I still believe Ben is the single best welterweight on the planet today. This loss reminds me of the time GSP got KO’d by Matt Serra. It was a huge upset, but it did not necessarily mean that Matt Serra was better than GSP. Their rematch emphatically proved this point.
Ben might look like he just got off a couch after eating a plateful of cheeseburgers and donuts, but do not be fooled. Ben is an absolute MONSTER. His wrestling is terrifying. And, his ground intelligence, man strength, and cardio are unparalleled. Above all though, Ben simply does not break. I will not reveal any names, but I have personally seen him destroy the highest level ONE and UFC champions many times in training (in addition to hearing inside stories of many other gym wars in the US). People can argue that training is not a real fight, but Ben has a history and reputation of delivering the same performance in both training and competition.
Don’t count Ben out. He is just getting started.”
Ben Askren’s coach, Duke Roufus said he thinks “Funky” can return by the end of the year. It was no doubt a heartbreaking loss, which he admits, but says there is nothing he can do about it now.