While he will be competing in a different type of combat sport, Ben Askren is confident heading into his boxing fight against Jake Paul.
The 36-year-old Askren is a former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion. He is also a multiple-time gold medalist in wrestling. Askren will be stepping inside the boxing ring to face a YouTube star with only two fights to his name. In a sport in which one must strike the other down, Askren believes his overall experience can help him on April 17 in Georgia.
“When I was doing MMA, all my stand up was based around how do I execute the intro to the striking and then get to my wrestling,” Askren told MMA Fighting. “I was very, very successful at it."
“I calculated this the other day, I think I got a takedown in 48 out of 50 rounds that I ever fought in mixed martial arts. So my strategy worked really, really, really well. That’s like a 95-percent success rate or somewhere around there.”
Following a successful wrestling career in which he won countless medals, Askren made his MMA debut in 2009. He was unbeatable while with Bellator and ONE, the only blemish a no-contest against Luis Santos in 2015. Askren joined the UFC in 2019 after a trade sent Demetrious Johnson to ONE. After almost losing to Robbie Lawler in dramatic fashion, Askren was able to beat him at UFC 235 via submission. He would famously lose to Jorge Masvidal via KO and would lose to Demian Maia in October 2019.
Retired, Askren has a podcast and trains the next generation of wrestlers. He faces a Paul brother who has fought YouTube star AnEsonGib and former basketball player Nate Robinson. Both are relatively new to boxing, but Askren doesn’t believe that will be an issue against someone like Paul.
“If I want to beat up an amateur boxer, it ain’t gonna take me more than three months of training to do so,” Askren went on to say.
“I did say when I retired, I will never be a full-time fighter but if something interesting comes up, I’d be willing to accept that. This falls into that category I think. I’m not going to be a full-time boxer but I got an interesting opportunity and I’m going to take advantage of it.”
The fight between the two will main event a show inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Music stars are set to perform, as this is under the Triller banner.