Two of the most hyped up names in the modern UFC face off when Ben Askren meets Jorge Masvidal in a Welterweight matchup at UFC 239.
Here is everything you need to know about the clash between two of the 170-pound division's top contenders.
Ben Askren's Last Fight
Lest we forget Ben Askren's UFC debut against Robbie Lawler at UFC 235. Entering the matchup with a load of fanfare due to his undefeated record and relative lack of mainstream exposure, expectations were high for Askren’s first foray in The Octagon®. Instead of pouncing at the chance of a warmup fight to get himself acclimated to the new promotion, ‘Funky’ stood across the cage from former Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.
Three seconds into the fight, Askren stuck to his game plan and went right for a takedown, resulting in a struggle that ended with Lawler slamming the acclaimed wrestler over his shoulders and piledriving his head into the canvas. As Askren laid prone, Lawler unleashed a flurry of uncontested strikes and the fight seemed seconds away from being stopped.
But Askren came back to his senses and scrambled back to his feet, eventually shooting for another takedown against the cage. With less than two minutes to go in the first round, Askren locked Lawler into a bulldog choke and referee Herb Dean called the fight as Lawler's left arm fell seemingly-limp to the ground.
The bout is remembered for it's confusing and controversial finish, as Lawler rose to his feet to contest the decision immediately after it looked like he passed out. Regardless, it went down in the books as a victory over a former division champion for Askren in his first UFC fight.
Jorge Masvidal's Last Fight
In his last outing, Masvidal put on one of the best performances of his scattered career. Against a noticeably larger Welterweight in Darren Till, Masvidal stood in the pocket and threw with one of the strongest punchers at 170.
After getting knocked down in the opening moments of the fight, Masvidal recovered and the two put on one of the best five minutes of the year. Three minutes into the second round, Masvidal threw a 1-2 combo with a right feint followed by an overhand left that clocked Till in the jaw, making the Liverpudlians lights go out.
The knockout was viscous to in both execution and outcome, earning Masvidal Knockout of the Night honors and a candidacy for Knockout of the Year.
Tale of the Tape
|Ben Askren||Jorge Masvidal|
|Fighting Out Of||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miami, Florida|
|Weight||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Reach||72 inch.||74 inch.|
Stats that Matter
- Masvidal boasts a 77-percent takedown defense
- Masvidal lands an average of 4.11 significant strikes per minute
- Nine of Askren's last 11 fights have ended by finish
What to Watch For
Even 46 fights into his career, Masvidal was showing new tricks in his stellar performance against Till. 'Gamebred' confused Till by constantly switching stances early in the fight, allowing him to close the gap on the bigger fighter. Expect a similar game plan from Masvidal against Askren to keep his opponent on his toes if the fight stays standing — which is a big ‘if’.
However, this strategy could come back to bite Masvidal against one of the best wrestlers in the 170-pound division. Askren has no desire to stand and trade with the former pro boxer and will likely shoot within the first 20 seconds of the fight, which could determine the outcome. Askren will pounce on the stance switch once he gets the timing right, keeping Masvidal off balance and bringing him to the ground.
If Askren gets a hold of Masvidal, he'll ride the lankier opponent down with the aid of the cage. If this fight gets to the canvas, the smothering will begin. Askren is an elite wrestler and is both stronger and bigger than most Welterweights, resulting in a dominant performance against Masvidal if the fight reaches that level.
Masvidal knows that Askren will shoot. While confidence isn't high that he can stop him, Masvidal could pull out a similar performance to the one he had against Demian Maia. He stuffed the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt several times, even withstanding Maia's "backpack" back mount. Still, though, Masvidal wasn't able to register enough damage while on the defense, resulting in a split decision loss.
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