Ben Askren reflects on his first loss
Every highlight reel has two sides, one glorious, the other, not so much. On Saturday night Ben Askren was on the losing end of the fastest KO in UFC history. 'Funky' appeared recently on “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show" to talk about it.
“I hear people saying it was lucky, it’s not luck," said Askren as transcribed by Adam Guillen Jr. for MMA Mania. "Will it happen 100 out of 100 times? Definitely not. But landing a knee like that takes a lot of skill, I couldn’t do such a thing. But at the same time, I didn’t get my ass kicked for 15 minutes and I didn’t get stuffed on 13 takedowns and just get beat up for people to say, ‘He sucks.’ I got caught with a flying knee and got knocked out. There is not much I can do about it.”
“I was ready for knees and I told Duke [Roufus] in the back that I thought he’d try something crazy right away. If you remember the Till fight, he ran across and kicked him in the balls in the first four seconds. I had an inkling he was going to try something right away. And I’ve always thought, ‘Who the hell gets caught with a flying knee? Can’t you see that coming? It’s coming from so far away?’ But when I watched the film, I don’t like Jorge at all, but that was a damn good flying knee. He hit it fast and explosive. He got some serious airtime on it and connected on the right spot."
“One side of me says, ‘How did I get knocked out in five seconds?’ And I’ve been in this game for ten years and haven’t really been hit hard. I’ve never been rocked, never been dropped. So I was almost getting to the point where, I don’t want to say I was careless, but I kind of thought I was almost invincible or had a tough skull. It was a hell of a hit, but I was proved wrong on Saturday night.”
“There’s a little part of my memory that’s blank there,” said Askren, as transcribed by Nolan King for MMA Junkie. “I remember being in the cage with him. I don’t really remember the flying knee. Then, when I can recall, I remember everything. Like, ‘Oh (expletive), I lost to Jorge Masvidal. This freaking sucks.’ Everyone else is more worried about me than I’m worried about myself. I didn’t really have any pain of any sort. Not a headache. Nothing on my face hurts. So it was just like, ‘Oh, Jesus. I lost to Jorge Masvidal. How did I lose to him? How fast was it?’ I could tell it was pretty fast because I wasn’t sweaty or sore or anything. I knew it was fast. I didn’t know exactly how fast it was. Apparently, I set a record of some sort.”
So-called fans were quick to criticize Askren for his unconventional level change that immediately preceded the KO. But had the flying knee ended in Masvidal being taken down, there would have withering memes about that, too.
“It’s hard saying it was wrong," said Askren. "It’d be total confirmation bias if I were to say that. And a lot of other people would. But the fact that I’ve been in the cage 19 times, and that kind of technique has worked 19 other times, and it’s never failed me, so now to the one time it fails me, to turn around and say it’s bad technique, I shouldn’t have done it, it was predictable – to say those things obviously would be correct, but it’s confirmation bias.”
Askren also referenced the withering criticism that was directed at him after the loss.
“I feel like I probably deserve it,” said Askren. “I’ve been antagonizing people for almost a decade now, and it never came up on the end of the stick. Now, I’m not reading everything they’re antagonizing me with. I’m just scrolling through it. I don’t want to dwell on that. But fair enough. I always figured that when this point happened, I’d get lit up. I’m not paying attention to it, but I’m sure I’m getting lit up.”
While Askren was accepting of the loss, he took issue with what he interpreted as Masvidal saying he deserved the KO and worse because of the pre-fight trash talk.
“One of the moronic things that Jorge is saying is that I deserved it because I was talking all that trash,” said Askren. “If I didn’t say nothing – No. 1, I wouldn’t have gotten the fight. No. 2, not that many people would have been excited about it. No. 3, would you have really tried not to knock me out? Would you have tried to be nice to me and play patty cake with me or paper, scissor, rock or something? No. No matter what happened, you were going to try to knock me out, so why are you saying this narrative that you tried to knock me out because I was talking trash?
“… What we do is a cagefight. The whole point is to incapacitate the opponent into which they cannot compete any longer. So, the idea that he tried to make it worse because I was talking trash is insane. It’s totally ridiculous. It sounds good, and it sounds right. And it sounds like what most people would think, but that’s just not the case. If he is not trying hard against other people because they’re not talking trash, I would probably tell him he should rethink his strategy and try hard against everyone regardless of what they say to him.”
“I got nothing to hide from. Obviously, mistakes happen, losses happen. Saturday night was definitely not ideal for [me]. I got nothing to complain about.”