On Monday’s episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on ESPN Ben Askren announced that he is retiring, “from the sport of MMA” (per ESPN). Askren, who joined the UFC in 2018, turned 35 in July.
Since coming over to the UFC in what has been called a ‘trade’ with ONE Championship for Demetrious Johnson, Askren fought three times for ZUFFA. His debut came against Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 on March 2nd, 2019. Askren won that bout via a controversial technical submission.
After taking a win over the former UFC welterweight champion Askren lost, via highlight reel knockout, to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239 on July 6th, 2019. Askren’s final fight — if his retirement sticks — came against Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Askren on October 26th, 2019. Askren lost that fight via technical submission.
Askren told ESPN that part of the reason he was retiring was that he required a hip replacement surgery.
Askren’s first experience of combat sports was with amateur wrestling. As a high-schooler in Wisconsin he was a two-time state champion. While wrestling at the University of Missouri Askren was named a Division I All-American for four straight years between 2004 and 2007. During that time he was a two-time collegiate national champion, a three-time Big 12 Conference champion, and a two-time recipient of the Dan Hodge Trophy for collegiate wrestler of the year.
Askren represented the U.S. in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Olympics. Askren’s other international achievements include gold medals at the 2005 Pan American Championships and the 2009 World Championships. Askren also holds a gold medal from the United States Championships (2008).
Askren’s MMA career began in 2009 with the Headhunter Productions promotion in Missouri. After going 3-0 in regional competition Askren signed with Bellator to compete in that organization’s second ever welterweight tournament.
Askren won the tournament, and Bellator welterweight title, after defeating Lyman Good at Bellator 33 in 2010. Askren defended his title four times in Bellator before signing for ONE FC in 2014. Askren signed for ONE FC as a free agent after being rebuffed by the UFC.
In 2013 it was reported that Askren had met with UFC President Dana White, but that the UFC had declined to sign him. At the time Askren blamed the decision on White being “immature”.
With ONE FC Askren took his professional record to 18-0 (1 NC) over a three-year span. After his so-called trade to the UFC, Askren finished his professional career with an overall record of 19-2 (1 NC).