Ben Askren Content With Retirement, But Would Fight Georges St-Pierre ‘In A Heartbert’
Ben Askren is just days away from hanging up the 4-oz. gloves, but before he does, he’s got a date with Shinya Aoki at ONE: Immortal Pursuit on Friday.
The ONE welterweight champion made the announcement that he would be retiring back in September, shortly after he beat Zebaztian Kadestam at ONE’s first ever show in Shanghai. Speaking from Singapore this past weekend, Askren spoke exclusively to MMANytt.com to discuss his upcoming retirement.
“I’m feeling good man and I’m ready to rumble,” Askren said. “It honestly feels no different right now. Everything in my training has gone well and I’ve approached no differently to any of my other fights.
“I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.”
“This is going to be it for me. I don’t know, I guess I might not know my true feelings until it’s over right. You never how it’s all going to feel until it hits you and it’s over, but right now I’m feeling good about it all.”
Fighting a teammate
Aoki, a legend in his own right, is also a teammate of Askren and they both fight out of Evolve MMA. Fighting a fellow team member has made training in Singapore a little different to usual, but Askren insists it’s not been an issue at all.
“I’ve been in Singapore a few days now and I’ve trained at Evolve a few times already,” Askren said. “Of course, it’s been a little weird because Shinya trains here too, but I’ve been going in at different times.
“It’s not like we’re doing the same training sessions or anything.”
“I’ve just been getting my own training sessions in and working with Brian Ebersole and Bruno Pucci. It’s been going really well and I’ve been happy with what we’ve been able to do.”
One fight at a time
Retirement plans can often wreak havoc with a fighter’s emotions preparing for a fight, but seemingly not Askren. As far as he’s concerned, Friday will be just another fight and he’s not going in the cage with any distractions.
“I’ve no idea when it’s going to hit me, hopefully not until after the fight,” Askren said. “I’ve done a great job my whole career of not building things up to being more than they are.
“I always just make it about one fight. Every single time just one fight. Whether it’s for the belt or it’s not. It’s just one fight. I’ll just try and stay in that mindset.
“I don’t think there’s anything to change it up.”
I did it my way
Askren hasn’t always done things by the book when it’s coming to make career decisions, but that’s exactly how he wants to be remembered. The two-time NCAA champion wants to go down in history as a man that forged his own path and it’s unlikely anyone would deny him that claim.
“I think it’s all gone awesome,” Askren said. “I did it my way and every step of the way I decided to go by what I wanted and perhaps not what other people thought I should do. I’ve always done things that felt right on my terms and done what I felt was right at the time.
“Honestly now at 33, I look back at all the s*it that I’ve done and I think it’s pretty impressive.”
“I think I’ve accomplished things that not many people have done and I can be proud of that.”
While content with his impending retirement, Askren has left the door open to a future fight to prove he is the best in the world. Another man who has a claim to that title is Georges St-Pierre and given the opportunity, Askren said he’d love to fight him.
“Absolutely, I would fight Georges St-Pierre in a heartbeat.”
“I’ve thought a lot about fighting him before, but obviously he’s been retired so I’ve left him alone. It’s not right calling out fighters that are retired, you should just leave them alone. Now he’s back, sure why not. I’d love to fight him.”
“I thought he didn’t look great against Bisping. I thought he won the first round easily, Bisping won the second and part of the third and then bam. He got caught and that was all she wrote.”
Busy life outside of the cage
Unfortunately, the prospect of that fight ever coming together is “very unlikely” according to Askren. Should his retirement on Friday come to fruition, Askren will have no shortage of things to do outside of the cage.
“Man I stay so busy and I got a long list of s*** that I want to do, but I’ve never had the time to do,” Askren said. “A lot of it is to do with the sport of wrestling.
“I want to grow my own academy and I want to grow the sport as a whole.”
There’s a load of projects I want to get started on.”
And with that said, the only thing that remains is to watch one of the greatest welterweight in history of the sport put on the 4-oz. gloves one last time. Having made his MMA debut back in 2009, Askren gave his perspective on the growth of the sport.
“The sport has definitely grown that’s for sure,” Askren said. “It’s taken some interesting turns. I was in ground floor Bellator right, I was in Bellator 13 or something. So it’s been fun to see how they’ve grown. I was also pretty much ground floor with ONE, I think I was on ONE Championship 13 also so I think I’ve got a good perspective of where they’ve come from.
“Round about that time when I started, that was when the UFC were at their most monopolistic. Watching other organizations grow has been good for the sport and think it will be good to see ONE and Bellator continue to grow and challenge UFC in the next few years.
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“Hopefully that leads to better fighter pay and more people coming into the sport.”