Now that 2020 is upon us, let’s take a breather for a minute and look back on the fitness moments good (and bad!) that made our decade such an interesting one for the sport.
We reported in November that controversial UFC legend Ben Askren was retiring from the sport due to an upcoming hip replacement and a desire to focus on other goals moving forward. His decision was met with mixed response in the UFC community. Askren is something of an outlier in the UFC world, often called “Funky” for his unpredictability as a fighter and his seemingly illogical fighting style inside the ring. Articles sprang up left and right about Askren’s talents (or lack thereof) as a fighter and many held up his career as an example that you don’t need to be the very best to make a lasting impact on the sport. He was a strange, difficult fighter to understand.
“[If he had joined the UFC earlier,] he would be champion,” Askren’s coach Duke Roufus famously said about Askren’s strange reign in the MMA. “Unfortunately, circumstances and timing don’t work out. I’ve seen him do some special stuff in the cage and in practice ever since I met Ben, it’s just sometimes timing doesn’t line up in this industry.”
But perhaps Askren will be best remembered not for his wins but his losses — and we all know what I’m talking about. Jorge Masvidal’s 5-second KO of Ben Askren instantly catapulted Masvidal into one of the franchise’s hottest properties, not to mention sent every Askren fan in the audience into meltdown mode.
Although some animosity persisted between them for months after the fact, with Masvidal famously threatening to slap Askren in the face if he ever saw him in line at Whole Foods. However, since then the two appear to have made peace. The South China Morning Post reported that Askren was “all right” with Masvidal.
Regardless of where the two men stand as friends, we can all agree that this is one of the most incredible knockouts in UFC history and we were all blessed to be a part of it. Definitely one of the most memorable UFC fights from a decade we are sorry to see go. Dana White called it “one of the most vicious knockouts I’ve ever seen in my life.” Probably not the proudest capstone for Askren to end his career, but certainly a memorable one for him and Masvidal both. Askren might not be remembered for having the most wins in the UFC, but his mind is what really helped him stand out as a fighter. His strategies and his fighting style were always unique, always so Ben Askren. A mind is a terrible thing to waste — and so is a knee to the head in the first ten seconds of a round, it turns out.