Ben Askren has been comfortable in retirement for almost a year now, and yet he’s already starting to go back on that decision and discuss his potential return to professional MMA competition. Askren retired after two consecutive losses, the only ones in his entire career, against Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia respectively. He was finished in both of those fights, the first being the fastest knockout in UFC history and the second being a third-round submission loss in a textbook Maia performance. Realistically, neither of those losses were anything to be ashamed of for the two-time NCAA champion as they came against some of the best the sport has to offer at Welterweight.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Askren started by talking about the last few years of his fighting career:
“It does not feel like that long ago. The whole last couple of years seems like a blur—from the un-retirement, to the retirement, to the fighting again—and then this year, 2020 for everybody has been pretty wild with everything going on.”
“The day after the surgery, it (the pain) was just gone. It was wild. I wasn’t anticipating that. I just thought I had a bad back because I wrestled my whole life, and the morning after my surgery I woke up and my back pain was gone. I thought maybe it was because I was on pain pills, but it just never came back.”
Then the conversation naturally turned to the potential for Ben Askren to make a return to the UFC:
“I would say, never say never. I think it’s unlikely, but I’m gonna wrestle next year. Not WWE wrestle, but real wrestle. I need a reason to train and stay in shape. I love eating ice cream and everything else. I haven’t got on a scale in a year. I haven’t gotten on a scale since I fought Demian Maia over a year ago.”
“If I don’t have a good reason to get on the scale, I’m not getting on the scale and I know that ain’t great for my health. I’m not super obese, but I’m definitely not in great shape right now and I can’t really train. I can ride a bike right now, that’s about all I can do with my hip but give me a few more months and I’ll be able to start getting on the mat. I’ll be able to start lightly doing some stuff.”
While he was a little unsure about making another run at UFC gold, he was a lot more certain about continuing with his first love, Wrestling:
“I’m definitely going to try and get some wrestling matches next year just so I can have a reason to stay in shape and I’m at the wrestling academy five days a week anyways so it won’t change that much.”
Considering that Askren will be interested in competing in grappling matches and he has previously been invited to compete at ADCC, there’s potential for him to make a second appearance now that the ADCC World Championships have been delayed to 2022. Fingers crossed!