Ben Askren saw Jorge Masvidal’s early blitz coming — but “Gamebred” simply executed it to a tee.
Askren, who lost to Masvidal via five-second knockout on the UFC 239 main card on Saturday in Las Vegas, said Monday he has always wondered how someone could get flying kneed, because they usually come from far away — but then it happened to himself.
“I had an incline he was going to try something right away,” Askren told Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. … “I don’t like Jorge, but that was a damn good flying knee. He got some serious air time on it and obviously connected in the right spot.
“He executed well. That’s what it comes down to. He had a gameplan, he executed really well, he got the knockout. I had a gameplan, I obviously didn’t execute — I didn’t even get the opportunity to execute, but I didn’t execute very well on the one thing that I tried to do.”
Askren, one of the best wrestlers in MMA whose sole gameplan in fights is to get his opponent down, doesn’t plan to change what he does in the cage or how he prepares for fights.
“It’s hard saying it’s wrong,” Askren said of his ill-fated, early takedown attempt against Masvidal. “That would be total confirmation bias if I were to say that, and obviously a lot of people would. I’ve been in the cage 19 times, and that type of technique has worked 19 other times and has never failed me. So now, for the one time it fail me, to turn around and say, ‘Yeah, that’s bad technique, that’s not the way it should’ve been done, it was predictable,’ to say those things, obviously they would be correct, but it’s also confirmation bias. I am not going to fall for my own confirmation bias.”
Askren, who is medically suspended until September, has not yet thought about what’s next for him. The Masvidal loss was the first defeat of his 21-fight pro career, a run that includes titles in Bellator and ONE Championship. Askren admitted the only thing he saw next for him after UFC 239 was a title shot, and, of course, that is no longer in the cards.
“I was right where I wanted to be,” Askren said. “I was right on the precipice of having that title shot against (Kamaru) Usman. … I was all in on the one thing happening, the other thing happens, so I guess I have to take some time to regroup.
“I’ve been in this game for 10 years. I haven’t really gotten hit hard barely at all, I’ve never really been rocked, I’ve never been dropped. I was almost getting to the point where, I don’t want to say I was careless, but I kind of thought I was almost invincible or just had a tough skull. It was a hell of a hit, but I was probably proved wrong on Saturday night.”
Askren is still no fan of Masvidal, calling him a “douche,” but was willing to admit that he lost fair and square — and that sometimes, that’s what happens in this sport.
“What am I gonna do about it?” Askren said of his loss. “Cry, ask for a rematch? I don’t deserve a rematch; I got knocked out in five seconds. What do you want me to do? Sometimes life doesn’t go your way — sometimes you get your ass kicked, sometimes you lose. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it.
“There’s nothing I can do to change it, so me being upset about it is not going to do me any good whatsoever.”
Askren said loss, failure and struggle is “part of what makes us who we are” and “what makes us strong.”
“Wishing to go through life without struggle or failure, that’s wishing for a sh-tty life,” Askren said. “You don’t really want that. I want struggle and I want failure. I want my kids to have struggle and I want my kids to have failure. I want the kids I coach to have struggle and failure. That’s what makes us who we are. So it’s fine and I accept it.”
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