Ben Askren is one of the best wrestlers to ever enter the octagon and used his skills to great effect throughout a long career, but he’s now revealed that he regrets never bringing his BJJ skills up to the same level. The ONE Championship and Bellator World Champion retired in 2019 at the age of 35, explaining that years of elite grappling competition had taken it’s toll on his body and he needed a hip replacement. Askren was asked if there was one thing he would change in his MMA career and his admission that he lacked elite BJJ training makes some sense seeing as the last time he was seen competing resulting in him being choked unconscious by Demian Maia.
I get asked often if there is anything I would have done differently with my MMA career. Here ya go. pic.twitter.com/TJEqd7XPgS
— Funky (@Benaskren) August 10, 2020
“I never really had a great jiu-jitsu coach until really the end of my career when I found Marc Laimon. I really enjoyed him. But before that, there was really a mix of different jiu-jitsu coaches at (Roufusport), and I think that my potential to choke people out went untapped. “I was the best pinner in modern era of college wrestling, and I think if I would have went to work with, say, the Danaher Death Squad or Marcelo Garcia, I could have really tapped into that at a much higher level. But then at the same time, I really liked being coached by Duke (Roufus), that was going well, and I always thought, ‘Hey, I’m good enough on the ground. I need to work on the striking end of the takedowns.’ I always thought, ‘Hey, I’m going to be done in a couple of years.’ And then it just ended up so happening that I fought until effing 2019.”
“If I would have put some more time into jiu-jitsu, I think I could have gotten better choking people. But, hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. That’s what I would have done a little bit differently had I been able to go back and do it again.”
His answer to what he would’ve done differently is somewhat surprising considering Ben Askren has been vocal in the past about some of his criticisms of BJJ and the common teaching methodology. Although, he’s never really criticized the art itself and the two teachers that he referenced, John Danaher and Marcelo Garcia, are hardly likely to make the same mistakes as some small, local clubs. Given that Askren ended his career with a respectable 19-2 (1) record, it’s natural to wonder what he could’ve achieved had he had better submission skills. That could’ve potentially improved his finishing ability, something that was often cited as a reason behind Dana White not giving him the opportunity to move to the UFC until very late in his career.