Jorge Masvidal has taken out top tier fighters like Donald Cerrone and Darren Till, and has long been regarded as one of the toughest competitors in the game, but Ben Askren maintains he’s in for an easy night at UFC 239.
Askren was booked to fight the veteran fighter, following the decorated wrestler’s submission (controversial) win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 in March. Masvidal also fought that month at UFC London, and brutally KO’d the aforementioned Till. After Askren and Masvidal traded shots through social media etc, the welterweight contenders were signed to throw down on July 6th.
Well, recently Askren spoke with MMA Fighting about his upcoming fight with Masvidal. Here’s some of what the former ONE and Bellator champ had to say about Masvidal and his abilities:
“Going in to the fight with Masvidal, I thought Till was going to win,” Askren said. Masvidal was already making excuses so I didn’t really think it was a good possibility of me fighting Masvidal but then when he won, they started looking around at opponents for me and “Wonderboy” [Stephen Thompson] lost and Masvidal was the one that made the most sense.
“I just had to goad him into saying yes, which I did, and here we are.”
“I think it’s pretty easy,” Askren said, while talking about how he matches up against Masvidal. “He’s simple right? He’s got good hands but his wrestling’s not great. His jiu-jitsu’s not great. His strength is not great. His cardio’s not great. So when you break it down like that, it becomes pretty simple.”
Now, some people may read these comments and will think Askren’s just slinging trash or trying to get into Masvidal’s head. But, Askren could very well believe that if he fights smart, he’ll cruise through Masvidal, as he has against so many other fighters. After all, Askren’s takedowns and top game have delivered him 19 victories to date and he’s never been defeated.
Could Masvidal’s wrestling be better than Askren thinks? Maybe. Especially if Masvidal has been working on it a lot in preparation for this bout, or, following his split-decision loss to Demian Maia in 2017. Is it at a level now where Masvidal will be able to squash Askren’s takedowns repeatedly? That seems very unlikely. This is why the betting lines have Askren as a decent favorite to win the bout, with odds ranging from +187 to +226.
All that said, it’s going to be really interesting to see how the fight unfolds, and whether Masvidal can hand “Funky” his first loss.