Undefeated Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren heads into his title fight Friday night against Douglas Lima brimming with confidence and it’s not hard to see why. The former Olympic-level wrestler has yet to taste defeat and is emerging as one of the breakout stars of the fledgling promotion. Despite his resume and accolades though, there is a part of him that still feels he’s underrated.
I would put myself significantly higher than I seem to be [ranked] right now. Only from the aspect that I’ve trained with a lot of tough guys, a lot of top guys, so I’ve got a pretty good gauge of where I am. I haven’t proved it in competition yet, but hopefully I will over the course of time.
Friday’s showdown against Lima has been termed by many to be an old school striker versus grappler match-up and a throwback to the sport’s early days where fighters of different disciplines would test their mettle. But to hear Askren tell it, it’s a different story.
I think it’s mischaracterized. We’re both brown belts in jiu-jitsu and a lot of people neglect that. They think of me as a wrestler and him as a striker and I think that’s a mischaracterization.
That said, his biggest threat is when he’s standing up. Obviously he showed his power in the last two fights and I think that’s the biggest danger. The plan to avoid that is to take him down. Also, my striking defense has gotten significantly better than my last fight, hopefully that will help too.
Askren has gone to great lengths to add to his wrestling repertoire. He now trains with legendary striking coach Duke Roufus, and he claims the gains have been immeasurable.
It’s awesome. In my opinion, they’re the premier striking coaches in the country or maybe even the world. Duke’s so good at what he does and has such a variety in his background. He’s been a pro boxer, fought muay thai in thailand, been a kickboxer. On top of that he understands MMA and MMA striking is different than any of those other things. I think they blend them really well and they coach guys the way they need to be coached.
Outside the cage, Askren’s hobbies are varied. He is an avid frisbee (or disc) golf player who once finished ninth in that sport’s amateur world championships. He also speaks with passion about the latest movie he saw, a documentary about the recent US financial crisis brought on by corrupt Wall Street bankers.
The wall street bankers that made the banks fail and then got their money back from the government because they’re all entangled with each other, they’re all scumbags and I’d like to line them all up and punch them each in the face for what they’ve done to the common American person.
Ben Askren continues his fight for the common man on Friday night at Bellator 64.