Ben Askren, a 2008 Olympic wrestler, who just returned from the Beijing Olympics will soon decide if he will continue to work toward the 2012 games in London or make a move into the sport of mixed martial arts.
The University of Missouri wrestler, who won the 2006 and 2007 NCAA National Championship in wrestling in the 174-pound weight class, is a long time fan of the sport and sees the level of competition he could face as a whole new challenge.
“I see it as the ultimate competition, one man against another man, very limited rules, and the toughest guy wins. So that’s definitely what I like about it,” said Askren during an appearance on MMAWeekly Radio.
He competed at 174 pounds while in college and at 163 pounds while in the Olympics, but he said if fighting is his ultimate choice, he would compete in the 170-pound welterweight division.
He has worked in Missouri with a local gym rolling in jiu-jitsu a couple of times a week already, but has very limited striking experience to his credit. Askren is realistic about a move into MMA and knows he has a lot to learn.
“I’m not going to go in the cage unprepared,” he stated. “I’m a worker and I’m going to work. I’m going to get good at what I do. I want to get good at jiu-jitsu, get good at striking, and I’m going to go in there prepared.”
The Olympian stated in the interview that he’s a fan of fighters such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, and has seen the success of past top wrestlers such as Matt Lindland and Josh Koscheck in MMA.
“Pretty much any high level wrestler that applies themselves to mixed martial arts does well in it,” he commented. “I think you’d be hard pressed to find one that actually trained in mixed martial arts and didn’t do well.”
Just getting home from China a few days ago, Askren has thoughts of possibly competing in the Olympics again, while also mulling the decision to coach at his alma mater or making the move to MMA. It’s a decision he will make very soon.
“That’s a decision I’ve got to make coming up really soon, maybe in the next couple weeks,” he said. “There’s a definite possibility I might just focus on MMA. I don’t want to say 100 percent, but it’s definitely a possibility.”
Of course being an Olympic level wrestler, Askren also wants to fight the very best in the world if he does transition into MMA.
“I want to face tough opponents, I don’t want to face ‘cans,’ as they call them,” he commented.
Askren’s next move will be to attend the upcoming World Extreme Cagefighting event to take a look at high level mixed martial arts first hand. WEC 36 takes place on Sept. 10 in Florida and features a main event title bout between defending featherweight champion Urijah Faber and challenger Mike Brown.