Ben Askren has given his thoughts on his stunning first-round defeat at the hands of Jorge Masvidal on the UFC 239 main-card.
The word ‘stunning’ is one that is thrown around a lot of in this sport but once Jorge Masvidal put on one of the year’s most anticipated fights to bed before we’d even caught our breath, there were few better ways to describe.
Duane Ludwig’s 6-second KO of Jonathan Goulet from 2006 did seem like a record that could remain intact for quite a while longer and yet, against all odds, Jorge managed to get the job done with KO that could well have been called at somewhere closer to 3 seconds.
Speaking during a lengthy exchange with ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani yesterday evening, Askren seemed to be in good spirits – taking the L in his stride while breaking down his own experience inside the octagon, or what he can remember of it.
“I got nothing to hide from. Things happen, losses happen. Saturday night was definitely not ideal for myself, but I got nothing to complain about. There is a little part of my memory that is blank there. I remember being in the cage with him. I don’t really remember the flying knee and then when I can recall, I remember everything. So I was like, ‘Oh shit, I lost to Jorge Masvidal. This freaking sucks.’
“Everybody was more worried about me than I was about myself. I didn’t really have any pain of any sort. Not a headache, nothing in my face hurts. And so it was just like, ‘Oh Jesus, I lost to Jorge Masvidal.’ I could tell it was pretty fast because I wasn’t sweaty or sore or anything.”
Masvidal’s reputation as something of a calculated wildman inside the octagon had Ben and his team wary of the fact that he may try something reckless early on and yet, when push came to shove – or in this case, when knee came to dome – it was the wrestler who made the first move, ducking his head down before being connected on perfectly with this soon-to-be-iconic flying knee.
“I was ready for knees and I told Duke in the back that I thought he’d try something crazy right away. If you remember the Till fight, he ran across and kicked him in the balls in the first four seconds. I had an inkling he was going to try something right away.
“And I’ve always thought, ‘Who the hell gets caught with a flying knee? Can’t you see that coming? It’s coming from so far away?’ But when I watched the film, I don’t like Jorge at all, but that was a damn good flying knee. He hit it fast and explosive. He got some serious airtime on it and connected on the right spot.
“One side of me says, ‘How did I get knocked out in five seconds?’ And I’ve been in this game for ten years and haven’t really been hit hard. I’ve never been rocked, never been dropped. So 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 had a tough skull. It was a hell of a hit, but I was proved wrong on Saturday night.”
It’s hard to draw too much in the way of things you can improve upon when your fight is done and dusted in five-seconds.
For Askren, who had been nothing short of dominant in his career up until he arrived in the UFC, to lose in that manner would no doubt be something of a shock to the senses – if it weren’t for the fact that it happened so suddenly.
Giving credit to Gamebred where it was due, Ben went on to at least be thankful that it was a flash KO and not a defeat that saw him outclassed over a long period of time.
“I hear people saying it was lucky, it’s not luck. Will it happen 100 out of 100 times? Definitely not. But landing a knee like that takes a lot of skill, I couldn’t do such a thing.
“But at the same time, I didn’t get my ass kicked for 15 minutes and I didn’t get stuffed on 13 takedowns and just get beat up for people to say, ‘He sucks.’ I got caught with a flying knee and got knocked out. There is not much I can do about it.”