Professional UFC Fighter
Eagle Moon Hemp Fight Team
Benjamin Askren is an American-born retired professional mixed martial arts competitor and amateur wrestler. Before competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Askren became the Welterweight Champion in Bellator Fighting Championship and the ONE Championship, a Singapore-based MMA fight promotion. Askren was also an accomplished grappler. In 2008 he was a US Olympic Team Member and National Champion, the 2005 Pan American champion in freestyle wrestling, a four-time finalist and two–time NCAA Division I national champion, and a four-time finalist and two–time Big 12 Conference champion for the Missouri Tigers. Askren was the second wrestler to secure multiple Dan Hodge Trophies (wrestling version of the Heisman Trophy) in folkstyle wrestling. He was also a world champion in submission wrestling.
The Beginning For Ben Askren
Benjamin Michael “funky” Askren was born July 18, 1984 in Hartland, Wisconsin. His father, Chuck, introduced him to wrestling in grade four, but Askren didn’t really take the sport seriously until he started the sixth grade and joined a club. At Arrowhead High School, Wisconsin, he became a two–time WIAA state champion. Across the nation, he placed in the podium at multiple US National tournaments in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
Askren wrestled for the Missouri Tigers in college. Some of his teammates were future UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and future Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. From 2003 to 2005 (freshman and sophomore years), Askren achieved second place at the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference Championships. After coming in second for half his career, Askren came into his own. In his junior and senior years he became the third person to earn the Dan Hodge Trophy on multiple occasions, receiving it in both seasons and compiling a 87-0 record. Askren finally graduated with a superb 153-8 record, two Dan Hodge Trophies, a Schalles Award, two NCAA championships, two Big 12 Championships, and 91 pins — the third most in NCAA Division I history. Askren was one of the best collegiate wrestlers of all time. He earned the nickname “funky” for his style, which employed many unorthodox scrambling techniques. His uncommon body shape, for a wrestler, allowed him to do moves his competitors could not, constantly putting them in uncomfortable positions which often lead to pins.
On January 9, 2012, Askren was informed he would be one of six new inductees to the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
Despite his folkstyle rules background, Askren took well to freestyle wrestling after college. After adapting his style in 2007, Askren won the US National Championship in April. He followed this up by making the US Olympic Team in June. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Askren defeated Hungarian István Veréb via fall in the first round, but lost to Cuba’s Iván Fundora on points in the quarterfinals. When Fundora was defeated by Russia’s Buvaisar Saitiev, Askren lost any chance to win a medal.
Early Career, Post-Olympic
Askren decided to pursue a career in MMA after the Olympics, but continued to compete in wrestling. In 2009 he won the Dave Schultz Memorial International. And later that year, in a folkstyle rules match at the Midlands Tournament, Askren defeated 2009 world silver medalist Jake Herbert. In 2010 he met Fundora once again in the semifinals of Cerro Pelado International in Cuba, where he defeated him. In May, 2019, Askren lost by technical superiority to Jordan Burroughs, five–time World and Olympic champion, in the annual Beat the Streets benefit event.
Askren made his professional MMA debut on February 7, 2009 for Headhunter Productions, defeating Josh Flowers by TKO early in the first round. Askren’s second fight was at Patriot Act 2 in Columbia, Missouri. He defeated Mitchell Harris via submission.
At the same time, Askren competed in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, winning his first match against Toni Linden, but lost the second to Pablo Popovitch’s figure four footlock. Askren also competed at the FILA World Grappling Championship, defeating Jacob Volkman and winning gold in the 84 kg no-gi division.
Askren managed a record of 9-0 at the Bellator Fighting Championships from 2010 to 2013, then moved on to sign to a two year, six fight contract with One Championship, with a perfect 12-0 record. From 2014 to 2019 he won six out of seven matches, the only hitch to his record was an accidental eye poke resulting in a no contest result against Luis Santos in April of 2015.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
On November 3, 2018, under the “trade UFC and One Championship agreement,” Askren was traded to the UFC in exchange for former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. Askren made his UFC debut by defeating former Welterweight Champion Rober Lawler by technical submission in March, 2019. Next he faced Jorge Masvidal, a veteran, in July of 2016. He lost the bout to a flying knee five seconds into the first round. This was the fastest knockout in UFC history and it broke his undefeated record. His last UFC fight was against ADCC World Champion and MMA veteran Demian Maia in October, 2019. Askren lost the fight by technical submission in round three, but he did earn the Fight of the Night award.
On November 18, 2019, Askren officially retired from mixed martial arts competition. However, after spending just over a year in retirement from MMA, he announced that, due to successful hip surgery in 2020, he intends to return to competitive freestyle wrestling.
- UFC Fight of the Night
- Bellator Welterweight Championship
- Four successful title defenses
- Bellator Season 2 Welterweight Tournament Championship
- Most consecutive title defenses in Bellator history: 4.
- Most successful title defenses in Bellator history: 4
- Undefeated (9-0)
- ONE Welterweight Championship
- Three title defenses
- Undefeated (7-0)
Askren enjoys the sport of disc golf. In 2009, he finished ninth in the Amateur World Championships. Askren co-hosts several wrestling podcasts: ‘FloWrestling Radio Live’ with Christian Pyles, ‘The Funky & FRB Show’ with Front Row Brian, and ‘The T-Row & Funky Show’ with two–time NCAA champion Tommy Rowlands.
Askren married his wife, Amy, in 2010. They have three children, two daughters and a son, and a dog named Ragnor.