ONE’s welterweight champion, “Funky” Ben Askren, will likely call it quits after he finishes his six-fight contract with the Singaporean promotion.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Askren said there is a “high likelihood” he would be “calling it a day” after his six fights with ONE are up.
“I’ve got six fights left with ONE. Then I told them, it’s not a guarantee I’ll be done, but I think there’s a high likelihood that after those six fights I’ll be calling it a day.”
Fans of Askren’s, however, can rest assured that the likelihood of his retirement is exactly that: likely, but not definite.
“You never know what life is going to throw your way and I would never say never, but I think that’s definitely the way I’m learning. I did say I wanted to be retired by 30, whether it was wrestling or mixed martial arts.”
Yet here Ben Askren is, 31 years old, and about to take on Nikolay Aleksakhin, who is not only an expert sambo fighter, but also a pupil of one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, Fedor Emelianenko.
MMA fans have to wonder what would make the “Funky” one want to call it quits while he is in the midst of such a successful career.
In fifteen professional fights, Askren has fourteen wins and no losses. Only one of his matches, his most recent one against Luis Santos at ONE’s Valor of Champions, ended in a no-contest that sullied his otherwise flawless run in the world’s hardest sport.
Numerous accomplishments also highlight the career of a man who can rightly be considered one of the best athletes outside of the UFC. Besides holding the welterweight title in both Bellator and ONE Championship, “Funky” Ben holds the record for most successful and most consecutive title defenses in Bellator history. He is also tied with Michael Chandler for most consecutive Bellator wins.
Askren’s superiority in mixed martial arts can be primarily credited to his superior wrestling skills. A collegiate wrestler, wrestling coach, and former Olympian, Ben Askren can easily smother his opponents, leaving them helpless to defend against any of his attacks.
Yet this fighting style has also earned him a fair amount of criticism, most notably from UFC president, Dana White, who once tweeted that Ben could put the famous sedative Ambien to sleep.
White also famously shrugged off signing Askren to the UFC when the latter was abandoned by Bellator for being a “completely one-dimensional fighter who is utterly dominant in that dimension.”
When former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney tried to push Askren on Dana White, the UFC’s “Bald Father” told the undefeated welterweight champion that he needed to “work his way up.”
“As far as the kid and what kind of level he’s on, he barely beat Jay Hieron. He’s got some work to do and he can fight in another organization and work his way up.”
Askren did indeed work his way up, and he did so across the world in Asia’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion, ONE Championship.
In his first two fights for the promotion, Ben seemingly glided through his opponents, winning the championship at ONE’s Reign of Champions, his second fight for the company.
So, now that Askren is part of the biggest MMA promotion in the world’s biggest continent, why is he thinking about hanging up his gloves?
The simple reason may be that it is just his time.
“I always think that it’s going to be hard for me to totally step away from competition. I know it will be. I know it’ll be very difficult for me. But you have to call it a day at some point, right?”
Mixed martial arts fans can see “Funky” Ben Askren in action on Friday night at ONE Championship’s Global Rivals in Manila.
[Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images]