When Ben Askren travelled to London, England for UFC Fight Night 147, he told numerous reporters he was there to “pick a fight.” Askren was fresh off his win over Robbie Lawler and was looking to setup a match for his next fight. Askren strongly believed that Darren Till would be victorious over Jorge Masvidal and wanted to fight Till next.
Masvidal, the clear underdog going into the fight, upset Askren’s plans as he knocked out Till in the second round.
After the match ended Askren said he would fight anyone but wasn’t really interested in fighting Robbie Lawler again as he already defeated him.
Masvidal’s name was thrown around a bit but his next opponent seemed to be Leon Edwards, who had beaten Gunnar Nelson on the same card. Masvidal and Edwards had a heated exchange after the match and actually came to blows before security separated them. A match between those two would be an obvious choice due to the publicity revolving around the altercation.
Instead the UFC have announced that the undefeated Askren (19-0 1 NC) would face off against Masvidal (33-13) at UFC 239. The event is scheduled to take place Saturday, July 6, 2019 during Fight Week in Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena.
While Masvidal was absent from the UFC Seasonal Press Conference, Askren was on hand not only to talk about his opponent but also to add some comic relief to the event. He explained to a reporter about a sparring session he had with Masvidal in December 2008.
Ben said once he locked up with Jorge he knew that his opponent didn’t have the strength to resist him and he could completely dominate him. Askren also added that he doubted anything has changed since then.
When the reporter asked what Masvidal would say about that session over 10 years ago, Askren responded “He’s a habitual liar so I’m sure he will recount it differently.”
He also commented on Masvidal’s lack of discipline and “not really secure in your own masculinity” for attacking Edwards backstage after his fight at UFC Fight Night 147.
Askren is coming off somewhat of a controversial win during his UFC debut on March 2, 2019 at UFC 235. Robbie Lawler hurt him early in the bout and it looked like he would secure the win at the beginning of the first round. Askren recovered and went to work, eventually locking Lawler up in a bulldog choke.
Referee Herb Dean checked on Lawler, who he thought was out, and called the match giving the win to Askren. As soon as Askren released the pressure, Lawler popped up and objected to the call. There has been great debate on whether or not Lawler had lost consciousness temporarily due to the choke hold but he was unresponsive when Dean checked on him.
Askren is quite the personality and it will be interesting to see how his unique form of trash talk plays out leading to his bout with Masvidal at UFC.