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Ben Askren plans return to wrestling, says ‘never say never’ on MMA comeback

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Former UFC fighter Ben Askren’s feeling mighty confident after his hip surgery and likes his chances to step back into MMA at some point.

MMA: UFC 239-Masvidal vs Askren Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Former Bellator champ and UFC fighter Ben Askren has always been a dogged competitor, all the way back to when he started wrestling in his youth. After his unfortunate retirement due to hip problems, he has now somewhat unsurprisingly expressed the possibility of coming back to putting on 4-ounce gloves.

In a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck, the 36-year-old detailed the process of recovering from hip surgery and the overall benefits that have resulted from it. The pain that he felt from the strain on one side of his body was gone virtually overnight.

“The day after the surgery, it was just gone. It was wild. I wasn’t anticipating that. I just thought I had a bad back because I wrestled my whole life, and the morning after my surgery I woke up and my back pain was gone. I thought maybe it was because I was on pain pills, but it just never came back.”

Now that he’s feeling a little more spry and less pained, he’s not committing to the idea of coming back to the fight game. He’s not saying it’s over, either.

“I would say, never say never,” Askren stated. “I think it’s unlikely, but I’m gonna wrestle next year. Not WWE wrestle, but real wrestle. I need a reason to train and stay in shape. I love eating ice cream and everything else. I haven’t got on a scale in a year. I haven’t gotten on a scale since I fought Demian Maia over a year ago.

“If I don’t have a good reason to get on the scale, I’m not getting on the scale and I know that ain’t great for my health. I’m not super obese, but I’m definitely not in great shape right now and I can’t really train. I can ride a bike right now, that’s about all I can do with my hip but give me a few more months and I’ll be able to start getting on the mat. I’ll be able to start lightly doing some stuff.

“I’m definitely going to try and get some wrestling matches next year just so I can have a reason to stay in shape and I’m at the wrestling academy five days a week anyways so it won’t change that much.”

It should be noted that this was not a conventional full hip surgery, but rather one known as a Birmingham hip. It involves clearing out the ball and joint socket, capping the ball portion of bone and placing a metal cup inside the hip socket. As opposed to a full replacement, a patient can go back to having a more active lifestyle when this happens.

But Askren has a lot on his plate now, including his upcoming participation in the ONE Championship edition of The Apprentice.

If all goes well — and let’s all hope it does — he could be back on the wrestling mats later on. Whether or not he actually does return to MMA is a separate question and a touch-and-go matter, but it’s nice to know he’s not completely closing the door on the possibility.