Ben The “Funky” Askren’s MMA career is coming to an end in the very near future. The ONE welterweight champion will officially hang up the 4-ounce gloves after his next fight in November.
During an interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, the undefeated mixed martial artist in over nine years announced he will retire on November 24th after his attempt to defend the title against Shinya Aoki at ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit.
According to the former reigning Bellator champ, he has two major reasons on retiring at age 33. First reason, Askren wants to step out of the game before it’s too late and second, he still has a few other things to pursue in life.
The first reason is because nobody retires in time. I mean, you think about who retires during their prime, the number of athletes who do that in any sport is very small. And obviously a sport like golf, where you see Tiger Woods fall off — well, there’s not really too much damage he could take from that, right? Although when you watch him and he sucks, and you’re like, ‘God, he used to be so good, but you suck now,’ it’s kind of disconcerting as a fan, right? But then you look at someone like Muhammad Ali, who was literally my favorite athlete of all-time. The punishment he took from sticking around too long past his prime, man, I would have to say — we can’t prove it, but I’d have to say we could guess it led to a lot of the problems that he had later in his life.
So we’re in a combat sport, it’s dangerous, and I am definitely not physically at the peak I was, say, four to five years ago. And you know, it’s a slippery slope, because can I still compete with the best in the world? Yeah, of course I can. But you start getting a little worse and a little worse, a little worse. When is that cutoff?
Then the No. 2 reason will be, if you’re competing right, if you’re doing it right, competition should be a very selfish pursuit,” Askren continued. “When I was younger, [I would read] athletes’ biographies, I always said I would be done by the time I was 30, because I wanted to be able to give back. I thought I would be coaching, and I am, and I thought I would be a parent, and I am. And there’s a lot of things that I have to do. For example, I didn’t coach anyone for about the last six weeks before my fight at AWA, because this is my time, I need to get ready. And there’s things I miss out in my kids’ life, because this is my time, I have to get ready. So, I guess those are the two main reasons that I kind of set an expiration date for myself
Following retirement, Askren’s goal is to stay retired, but he will still part take in a few grappling or wrestling matches to stay in shape.
I don’t think I’ll ever come back, I’ve been pretty disciplined. When I say something, I generally stick to it, no matter what it is in life. I would (still) like to compete in some form, just because I enjoy competing, number one, but number two, to stay in shape. Maybe a couple of grappling competitions a year. Maybe a couple of wrestling matches here and there. Something like that, because I know I’ll miss competing, but something where I [don’t] necessarily feel like I have to be the best in the world at it, right? Something where I don’t have to be totally selfish.
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