Image courtesy of Rich Chou
Bellator welterweight champion, Ben Askren, discusses helping B.J. Penn train for Rory MacDonald, dishes on Rory's annoying dress code.
Ben Askren may not have a fight lined up, but he's still a busy man, and is staying prepared, just in case he gets the call. He's also been out to Hilo, HI to help B.J. Penn get ready for his December 8th octagon meeting with Rory MacDonald. I spoke with Ben yesterday, and got his thoughts on a variety of topics.
Stephie Daniels: Talk about working with B.J. Penn for his training camp.
Ben Askren: Yeah, it was good. I've been a B.J. Penn fan way before I had even considered stepping into the cage. They brought me out there mainly to be a big, strong training partner, and kind of give him the Rory MacDonald style. That's basically what they were wanting, so that's what I did.
Stephie Daniels: How do you think the fight is going to go?
Ben Askren: Obviously, MacDonald has got the size and strength advantage, but I think B.J. has got the boxing advantage. I think, if it goes to the mat, he's definitely got the jiu jitsu advantage. I really think he's in better shape than he's been in for his more recent fights. Hopefully, B.J. goes in there and smashes him. I think that's what a lot of people would be really excited to see.
Stephie Daniels: B.J. has come out and said that the negative comments he gets on social media and the lack of being included in "greatest champion" conversation as much as he once was, are the motivational factors for the new fire in him. As someone that has also faced social media criticism, does that also push or motivate you?
Ben Askren: For me, I really try not to worry about what people are saying. I don't have a bunch of "yes men" around me, so they're going to tell me the truth, and tell me what I need to hear. I pretty much ignore what people are saying and I don't really get too much into it.
Stephie Daniels: You're very entertaining on Twitter, especially on fight nights, and tend to engage with lots of people. Is there anybody out there that's managed to get under your skin and annoy you to some degree?
Ben Askren: You know, I don't really follow that many people on Twitter. Only a handful, like 40 or so. [Laughs] It's the funniest thing. All these people don't like me, yet they follow me on Twitter, just to say some shit to me whenever I say something. I'm like, 'Well, why are you following me in the first place?' Idiots. Actually, I'd have to say Rory MacDonald. I mean, I've helped B.J., so I have a biased opinion, and I want B.J. to win, but just the way he tries to dress up so fancy, I think that might annoy me [laughs]. I just don't know what to think about that.
Stephie Daniels: What part of his dress code is most annoying to you?
Ben Askren: Well, I don't really wear much else other than sweat pants and a T shirt or jeans and a T shirt. It's the whole thing with him. He puts so much effort in the look that he wants everyone to see. I just think that's kind of goofy. I'm not too much into new fashion stuff, but I wouldn't be caught dead ... you couldn't pay me enough to wear an outfit like he wears.
Stephie Daniels: Since we're talking about Rory, do you feel it's a big advantage for him to be able to train with GSP, especially since Georges has beaten B.J. twice?
Ben Askren: The first Penn/GSP fight was very controversial. A lot of people think B.J. won that fight. The second one was a little more decisive, but then you had Greasegate also going on there. I think Rory's size is going to be his biggest advantage, because he's definitely a lot bigger guy than B.J.
Stephie Daniels: What did you think of GSP/Condit?
Ben Askren: You know, it was good, but I think people are giving GSP a lot of credit, but I actually think it was condit that made the fight. He was just so active and aggressive in every position. Even when he was on his back, he was still fighting really hard. Had he just laid there, it probably would have been another of those like GSP has had recently.
Ben Askren: Honestly, I haven't watched much of the other guy yet (Koreshkov). Lyman Good wasn't too tough the first time, and I was only about 17 or 18 months into my fighting career. Hell, if I had known how to throw a punch, that fight would have been in over in the first round. He was just so one dimensional. He had no wrestling and no jiu jitsu. His striking was fairly good, but he didn't have any answer for the other two.
Stephie Daniels: How has your time at Bellator been?
Ben Askren: It's been a lot of good, and a little bit of bad. I haven't fought in eight months now, and it's just getting kind of slow and frustrating. I'm still in the gym, but there's no fight, so the lack of motivation to push myself is sometimes missing. The first part was good. They gave me a contract when nobody else would, and they gave me a bunch of fights in the beginning, so that was great, but I wish I was fighting a little bit more often now, and against a little bit more challenging opponents. Hopefully something comes through for January.
You can follow Ben via his Twitter account, @BenAskren