Home MMA Jordan Burroughs Pays Massive Respect To Ben Askren

Jordan Burroughs Pays Massive Respect To Ben Askren

Jordan Burroughs has paid respect to the man he shared the mats with at Beat The Streets NYC, the UFC superstar and former Olympian, Ben Askren.

In many ways, it was the coming together of two worlds – joined by the presence of one of modern wrestling’s past icons, the current UFC #5-ranked welterweight Askren.

Those who knew what they were watching were fully aware that Ben’s inactivity in the sport would not serve him well in a showdown against one of the greatest to ever do it, a guy, in Jordan Burroughs, who continues to compete at the highest levels.

And when the match actually started, the difference was felt.

The favourite ran away with the contest by a score of 11-0, earning himself a technical fall victory in what was a fairly handy win.

We actually spoke to Burroughs at length last week about his own thoughts on the matchup with Askren, his ongoing feud of sorts with Chael Sonnen, as well as the potential of a switch to MMA.

From the build-up to the direct aftermath, there was a real respect to be found between both guys – and now, Burroughs has issued a lengthy statement about Askren and the gratitude he feels for being able to put on a show last Monday.

“I was a 19-year-old college sophomore when I met Ben Askren for the first time. Fresh off a historic collegiate career, Ben was widely recognized as the best wrestler of his era regardless of weight —he was an icon in a sport lacking big personality.

“Less than a year after graduating, he made the 2008 Olympic team at 163 pounds, my current weight class. Meanwhile I was a 150-pound kid on the USA junior team, sitting on the edge of the mat during Olympic Team practice, hoping to not only pick up some technique, but maybe get to rub shoulders with some Olympians.

“As I sat in that sweaty wrestling room on those humid summer afternoons watching them prepare for the Games, my Olympic aspirations were born. Little did anyone know that I was going to be the man that would succeed Ben Askren.

“Regardless of the result, I knew this year’s Beat the Streets event was going to be epic. To Ben — what you and I were able to do Monday night was incredible. Thank you for your willingness to put your reputation, and more importantly your health on the line for the sake of the sport that bred you.

“For a few hours, the wrestling and MMA worlds stood still, and together, and wondered if you’d be able to – as you’ve done many times in the past –  shock the world. But instead, you got double-legged, more than once. All jokes aside, this match truly wasn’t about winning or losing, but rather supporting young kids in need and growing our sport. Because of your willingness to step toe-to-toe with me, countless new eyes have been drawn to wrestling.

“Something Ben said at Sunday’s press conference really resonated with me. “Stepping up to a challenge doesn’t mean just saying yes when you know you can win,” he said, “but saying yes even when you know that you could get your butt kicked.”

“That’s heart. Respect.”

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I was a 19-year-old college sophomore when I met @benaskren for the first time. Fresh off a historic collegiate career, Ben was widely recognized as the best wrestler of his era regardless of weight — he was an icon in a sport lacking big personality. Less than a year after graduating, he made the 2008 Olympic team at 163 pounds, my current weight class. Meanwhile I was a 150-pound kid on the USA junior team, sitting on the edge of the mat during Olympic Team practice, hoping to not only pick up some technique, but maybe get to rub shoulders with some Olympians. As I sat in that sweaty wrestling room on those humid summer afternoons watching them prepare for the Games, my Olympic aspirations were born. Little did anyone know that I was going to be the man that would succeed Ben Askren. Fast forward more than 10 years to this past Monday night. Both Ben and I walked down the stairs of the 200 section of the Hulu Theatre heading for the raised mat on a platform in an arena where we were the headliners. Ben, the former wrestling icon turned MMA superstar. Me, once just a young matside dreamer turned wrestling legend. And more than 6,000 fans to watch it all. Regardless of the result, I knew this year’s Beat the Streets event was going to be epic. To Ben – What you and I were able to do Monday night was incredible. Thank you for your willingness to put your reputation, and more importantly your health on the line for the sake of the sport that bred you. For a few hours, the wrestling and MMA worlds stood still, and together, and wondered if you’d be able to — as you’ve done many times in the past — shock the world. But instead you got double-legged, more than once. All jokes aside, this match truly wasn’t about winning or losing, but rather supporting young kids in need and growing our sport. Because of your willingness to step toe-to-toe with me, countless new eyes have been drawn to wrestling. Something Ben said at Sunday’s press conference really resonated with me. “Stepping up to a challenge doesn’t mean just saying yes when you know you can win,” he said, “but saying yes even when you know that you could get your butt kicked.” • That’s heart. Respect. 💯

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Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

About Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at cillian@punditarena.com.