Askren: Fighting for bonuses (like Lytle, Garcia, Gurgel) is for losers

by Zach Arnold | source:

2008 Olympian Ben Askren during a recent Sherdog radio interview about Eddie Alvarez not finishing off Pat Curran last Saturday at Bellator 39. Askren forcefully defended the reigning Bellator Lightweight champion.

“I thought he was fairly aggressive. As MMA goes on, people are going to get tougher and tougher and tougher and everyone’s getting harder to finish. In the past, the levels of fighters have been so far apart but now as everyone gets better it’s going to get closer and closer, it’s going to be harder to finish fights.”

He believes that winning is the primary objective and that fighters who fight for bonuses (like the Leonard Garcias, the Chris Lytles, the Jorge Gurgels of the world) are losers.

“I think people like that are losers because, in my mind, a fight’s about winning, not about putting on a show. We’re not singers, we’re not actors, we are Mixed Martial Artists or fighters or athletes, whichever way you wanna do it and that’s about winning ... When you’re fighting for 25 minutes, every fan and their mother can talk shit about this and that and don’t finish fights. Well, why don’t they get in there and fight for 25 minutes? That’s a long time. And you got to win before you show. I mean, people that show on top of winning, say Anderson Silva, that dude now he’s a showman but he’s also won, what, 13 fights in a row? So, obviously, he can do it. And there’s people like Leonard Garcia who goes out and puts on a show but he’s like 3-5 in his last 8 fights. Like, c’mon dude.”

Askren was doing the media rounds to promote his upcoming fight on Saturday night against Nick Thompson. Suffice to say, Ben’s not into the entertainment thing because rather than try to build up the fight, he destroyed Thompson throughout the interview as an opponent that poses no threat of winning their fight.

“I really don’t believe he brings a lot. The one thing, you know, I won’t get in a boxing match with him. Like I said, if I do stand-up with him it’ll be after I tenderize him for a few minutes and he won’t be the same person that we was at the beginning of the fight. He’ll be a much weaker, worn-down opponent. Other than that, I’ll know he’ll try to go for a sneaky submission here and there, he is a veteran, he’s obviously won a lot of fights, I think he’s won 38 fights so obviously he does a few things well. But I’ve been grappling with a lot of black belts and I know I’m a very difficult person to submit, so I’m not really worried about that. I don’t think he’s been training that hard, I think he’s over the hill, I don’t think he’s got great cardio, he’s probably cutting too much weight which leads me to believe that he’s going to come out and try to throw a few hard punches and, after that, it’s money in the bank for me.”

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Recent Comments »

JTfromCharlotte site profile image  

4/11/11 8:28 AM by JTfromCharlotte

Memo to Ben Askren: I'd rather watch a Chris Lytle fight any day (or anyone "fighting for a bonus" over watching you lay your way to another decision. Good luck being known as the next Jon Fitch.  

Neph site profile image  

4/8/11 10:50 PM by Neph

Stopped when he called Chris Lytle a loser. Guy is a fucking legend.

MickColins site profile image  

4/8/11 10:47 PM by MickColins

 I like Askren but he has a college wrestler's mindset. This is the world of professional fighting, not amateur. How you win matters. You'll never be more than a Bellator also-ran with that attitude.

HogWatcher site profile image  

4/8/11 10:07 PM by HogWatcher

From Bens Twitter: I'm sorry that my ability to use my intelligence to make a game plan which plays to my strengths and wins offends so many people.

damaebushi site profile image  

4/8/11 8:35 PM by damaebushi

 I should also add that in this day and age, with the rules and limitations that are in effect, that some fights are just going to end in a decision.   No matter how hard you train, no matter how good your plan, there are just so many ways things can go wrong.  The other fighter has his/her own plan, and much depends on how good they execute their offense and defense, on how well prepared they are.  That becomes more and more true as time passes and the training gets better, and the fighters become more well rounded and well prepared.  The only way that would not be the case is to go back to NHB rules such as no rounds, no time limits, etc.  That just isn't going to happen.  Commissions will not sanction fights like that, again, IMHO.  It is interesting to think about, though.  Imagine having similar rules to the "Old Days", but have the fighters as well trained and prepared as they are today.   Respectfully: Fred

damaebushi site profile image  

4/8/11 8:21 PM by damaebushi

 I think that if a fighter truly feels that is the only way to win, then he/she is smarter to do that than to go out and take foolish chances solely to please the crowd, and end up taking the loss when he/she otherwise would have won.  In the end, if it is a case winning vs. losing while being exciting, then winning is more important.  It is about overcoming your opponent, overcoming your own obstacles, fears, limitations, etc., imposing your will, and dominating your opponent.  If the only way to do that is to fight relatively safely and get the decision, that is the smarter way to go.   I don't, however, enjoy fights where one fighter is obviously avoiding engaging and fighting purely by running away or refusing to engage.  In my mind, that is not fighting.  That is not fighting defensively or counter fighting, it is purely avoidance.  Also, if a fighter is fighting for a living, a lot is riding on is W/L record, and he/she will get better fights, better paydays, and go farther with a better winning percentage.    That being said, I still think the ideal is what I said in my original post.  I think that in most cases, the fighter can and should figure out a way to go for the finish.   That may mean wearing down the opponent, grinding it out for a while to wear the opponent down or lure them into a mistake upon which he/she can capitalize, later in the fight.  I don't find that boring at all.  I admire it for being a smart strategy and for the stamina and discipline it takes to carry out.   In most cases, a fighter can find an area that he/she feels is their strong suit, and utilize a strategy to get the fight there, and from there go for the finish. Respectfully: Fred

keylockarmbar site profile image  

4/8/11 8:17 PM by keylockarmbar

dont talk noise about guys that have given us so much and to say the guys like wandy, leben, fedor, cro cop, and all the guys that were finish first fighters are loser when you are a rookie with a college wrestling background. because you cant fight to finish doesnt mean the guys that are busting your ass in the pocket book area are losers when they fight to entertain. you go be boring. leave the guys that make it so people want to see MMA and make the money that can come with it the fuck alone. ive never turned in one(1) show to see a ben askren fight. so maybe he should just keep his little thoughts to himself.-Wade Bolton

SimbaSpice site profile image  

4/8/11 7:46 PM by SimbaSpice

I really hope he gets KO'd cold soon. THAT I would pay for.

Slowshot site profile image  

4/8/11 7:39 PM by Slowshot

 Fred, What do you think about fighters trying to win a decision.  That is, they feel like the best chance they have of winning the fight is with a conservative gameplan, and not taking the risks involved in going for a finish (e.g. giving up position to go after an armbar when on top, or swinging for the fences when they do not have knockout power). I understand that everybody wants fighters to win AND finish, but do you think it should be expected for a fighter to lower his chance of winning, in an effort to raise his chance of finishing. If I am a fighter, and I have an 80% chance of winning by being conservative (lets call me a lay and pray wrestler), and a 60% chance of winning by submission/knockout, what should I do?

damaebushi site profile image  

4/8/11 5:33 PM by damaebushi

 IMHO, a fighter should have a strategy to win the fight and win it by finishing the opponent in some way, train his/her ass off to be able to have the skills and conditioning to execute that plan,  and also have the skills, conditioning, and mental strength to adapt and improvise if it doesn't go according to plan and still overcome.  WIth the rules in play nowadays, if, after all this, the fight still goes to a decision, then so be it.  The only fights I find boring are ones where one or both fighters are obviously stalling and not trying to win, or are in such poor condition that they have no choice other than to stall.  If, while trying to win, each fighters' skill negates the others, but they are still trying, I don't find that boring at all. Respectfully: Fred