Retired MMA fighter and accomplished wrestling standout Ben Askren has included himself in thirsting for Jake Paul’s blood. The 36-year old former ONE and Bellator MMA Welterweight World Champion has issued a challenge to the YouTuber. Regardless of the combat sports fight format, the grappler more than believes that he can beat the internet celebrity.
Despite the dominant performance in Los Angeles against former NBA Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson, Askren is far from impressed with his abilities. Askren gave an interview with Submission Radio and gave his thoughts on the wealthy social media upstart.
“I watched the highlights, Nate Robinson, good god,” Askren said. “I mean, honestly, it looked like he’d never been boxing before. For someone who’s such an elite athlete – I mean, this guy’s a very elite athlete, he was a great basketball player – he couldn’t box worth a damn. So, I guess Jake Paul has as least enough power to put Nate Robinson to sleep. I don’t really know if that tells us very much.”
“Obviously I’m someone who is a high-level fighter, who has a large following, who was maybe not known for his stand-up,” Askren explained. “I think that’s probably what he’s thinking. But, I’ve worked out with some other guys, just kind of been around, and they’re not fighters, and they… every fat guy on the couch in America thinks he can fight, right? They really do. And then once they feel what it really feels like, it’s just different. There’s just this gap. Like, they don’t understand what it really feels like.”
Askren retired from MMA competition in 2019 following a third-round loss to Damian Maia at UFC Fight Night in Kallang, Singapore in October last year. He underwent hip replacement surgery and has been laying low since then. However, with a decade of MMA on his side, “Funky” is feeling exactly that when discussing the possibility of getting into the ring with an attention-seeking sensation like Paul.
“Most people are like, oh, I don’t know why Ben Askren would stoop to that level,” Askren said. “It’s like, listen, when I was in high school, one of the fun things to do was, a bunch of dudes would come over to the house, we’d put on some boxing gloves and we’d try to beat the shit out of each other. Like, we did that for free, we just did that for fun. And now you’re telling me you’re gonna pay me a whole bunch of money to beat up a YouTube star. Like, I don’t know, that just sounds like a fun Friday night to me. Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, Lethwei. Name the style. You name the style, I’ll win.”
From what it seems, it may not look like he’s serious, but with years of dedication to his craft of fighting, with almost no stone unturned, he just might be. Compared to Paul’s two boxing matches, he sounds like he may want to teach the young man a lesson in respect to the art of combat. Paul may already have mastered the art of self-promotion, with over 20 million subscribers on YouTube.
The more Paul promotes himself and should Askren act on his desires, we may see the two combatants get down sooner than later. If this is part of the road to Conor McGregor, Askren may be part of the road tour as getting to McGregor may mean getting through a freestyle grinder, but it will have to be on their feet in the squared circle if both parties play their cards right.