Ben Askren explains his decision to retire after Aoki fight

Ben Askren retire

For One welterweight champ Ben Askren, it’s about knowing when to retire. However, he admits there’s one thing that can lure him back into the cage.

Ben Askren has always had to make smart career and business decisions. With UFC president Dana White publicly expressing his disinterest in seeing Askren in the UFC, “Funky” could’ve stayed in Bellator where he was already the welterweight champ. Instead, he went east, joining lesser-known ONE Championship, where he’d undoubtedly be one if its biggest names.

This move seems to have paid off, as he’s cashed in paycheck after paycheck with every fight while taking little-to-no-damage in each outing. Now, he makes another tough decision that could pay off as well: retire.

After his successful title defense in Shanghai, it was announced that ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren would return to the cage for the last time this November as he takes on Shinya Aoki in Singapore.

It was surprising news for many as Askren given the way he has dominated his competition with his wrestling. But to the “Funky” one, retirement has been long overdue.

According to the 33-year-old champion, it is high time for him to call it quits as he wants to retire on his own terms.

“The first reason is because nobody retires in time. If you think about who retires during their prime, [the number of] athletes who do that is very small,” he told Ariel Helwani in this week’s edition of The MMA Hour. “But then you get someone like Muhammad Ali who is literally my favorite athlete of all time, the punishment he took from sticking around too long past his prime, I would have to say that we can’t prove but we could guess that would led to a lot of problems that he had later in his life.”

“We’re in combat sports, it’s dangerous and I’m definitely not physically at the peak I was, say, four-to-five years ago, and it’s a slippery slope. Yeah, I can still compete at my best, but you started to get a little worse, a little worse, and so when is that cut off?”

Askren has already expressed in the past that he’ll be done by the age of 30. But now that three years have past, he now sticks to his word as he thinks not many athletes do it for for their own welfare.

Askren also describes competing as “a selfish pursuit” – sacrificing your time for your family and other responsibilities just to train and fight. Once he finally retires, he plans to focus his attention on his family and teaching at his wrestling school, Askren Wrestling Academy.

Though his decision to retire is already set, Askren admits that there’s one thing that may lure him back into the cage one more time.

“There is one caveat, the one way, only way I would ever come back for another fight is if it was for the number one spot in the world. Not (number) two, not three, not four, not five, none of those spots. Against the number one guy in the world and obviously the second part is that his name is not Tyron Woodley ’cause I have no interest in fighting [Roufusport Teammate] Tyron.”

“He’s a very good friend of mine so if for some reason the number one person’s name was not Tyron Woodley and I got offer to fight someone, I would come back and prove that I was number one. But other than that, I’m retired. I don’t need to come back and prove I’m (number) two, three or four, anywhere in there, I’ll be done.”

Check out Ben Askren’s interview below:

Mike Miguel

If there’s anything MMA related going down in the Philippines, Mike would know about it. With a knack for photography and social media, Mike never misses a beat.
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