Ben Askren – Grappling Skills Have Kept Him at the Top

Ben Askren is a 2x NCAA champion and current Bellator fighting champion (undefeated in 10+ MMA bouts). I appreciate the interview with Ben, who is now for the first time offering a DVD course on Wrestling and Control for combat sports called “The Manhandling Manifesto,” which is available only for a limited time. Check it out here, and thanks again to Ben!

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In every sport, there is always a sect of fans that will nitpick until they can’t see straight.  For these fans, nothing is ever good enough and the glass is always half empty.  For these version of MMA fans, if you aren’t going out knocking people out left-and-right, then you have no business being inside the cage.

One fighter that feels the wrath of many MMA pundits is Ben Askren.  An elite wrestler who can exert dominant top control, Askren has been on the opposite end of MMA fans distain for some time.

Fans are quick to dub Askren as “boring” or “dull” due to his style of fighting.  Willing to take you to the ground and make your life miserable, Ben Askren has perfected the polarizing style of “lay and pray,” a style that relies heavily on top control and ground strikes.

Despite all of this, these people will neglect to tell you that Askren is 11-0 in his MMA career, a world champion, and a truly elite fighter.


Separating Himself From The Competition

Consistency is a hard thing to come by in the world of mixed martial arts.  Sure, there were guys such as Fedor and Anderson Silva who—after years of domination—finally found themselves on the losing end of things.  Yet again, these two are rare examples and are clearly outliers in the consistency formula. His grappling skills from wrestling, tied in with his submission grappling skills – make him a complete terror in the clinch and on the ground – where nobody else has been able to hang with him.

In our interview, Ben talked about how his early wrestling training involved being a “thief,” and taking grappling / wrestling techniques that he liked and admired from other experienced wrestlers. This practice undoubtedly continues today as Ben “Funky” Askren’s style is as eclectic (yet successful) as ever.

For Ben Askren, having a solid four years of experience under his belt, he has yet to show signs of letting up.  11 fights in four years is a fantastic feat, and seeing he has done it against respectable competition.

Karl Amoussou, Douglas Lima, Dan Hornbuckle and Jay Heiron are just four of the names that thought they could take on the puzzle that is Ben Askren…and all failed.

For a fighter to compete with Askren, one thing is a must: you have to have outstanding cardio.

Being a wrestler, Ben has no problem grinding the fight out and making you work for every inch in the cage.  His style forces his opponents to carry his extra weight, which can add up and take its toll on opponents, causing them to gas rather quickly.

The Anti-Askren?

In just ten days time, Ben Askren will defend his title against Andrey Koreshkov.  Andrey, at just 22 years old, has proven to be a hot prospect in MMA, boasting an impressive 13-0 record.

This will be the classic matchup of a wrestler (Askren) and a striker (Koreshkov.)

Despite the heavy hands of Andrey, this isn’t the first time that Askren has met with a finisher.  Ben has been in the cage with guys who posses fantastic BJJ skills and can end the fight with one shot…so this is nothing new.

Either way, no matter your opinion on him, there is one thing you can’t deny: Ben Askren is the real deal and he doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. With grappling and takedown skills completely unmatched in Bellator, it’ll be interesting to see if the UFC might be the logical next step for Askren.

Dan Faggella

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