COMMENTARY | When it comes to challenging UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, forget Johny Hendricks, forget Carlos Condit, forget Martin Kampmann, and forget the rest of the UFC's 170-pound division.
At least, that's what Bellator champ Ben Askren thinks.
Askren, who holds the welterweight belt in Bellator MMA, didn't mince words in a recent interview with Sherdog.com about the fact he could beat St-Pierre, the No. 2-ranked fighter in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings.
Stated simply, yet confidently: "Yes," he said.
Askren's also not interested in hearing about GSP's wrestling credentials, one of the reigning UFC champ's prevailing skills.
"Just the notion that he's the best wrestler [at 170] is insane to me," he said. "He's got a great [double-leg takedown] and he's got great timing. But just watching him, you see a lot of errors where he's not a natural wrestler. He doesn't flow as well as other wrestlers do."
Askren (12-0-0, three KO/TKOs), an All-American out of the University of Missouri, is a two-time collegiate national champion (among other championships) and former member of the United States National Team. In short, the man knows his stuff.
With only one fight left on his current contract, he's also on the verge of moving from Bellator to the UFC. And if he does make the switch, Askren said he wants an immediate shot at St-Pierre (24-2-0, eight KO/TKOs), who's scheduled to fight Hendricks at UFC 167 on Nov 16.
"I would go right for Georges St-Pierre," he said. "I don't really think there is really a clear-cut challenger after Hendricks. Maybe Hendricks will get hurt and I'll get to fight him right away, I don't know. There's no clear-cut challenger that Georges St-Pierre hasn't already beat at 170, so I don't really see a reason why I shouldn't be able to jump in there and beat somebody up."
St-Pierre may not have the wrestling background that others, including Askren, possess, but in the UFC, he's landed 76 percent of his takedown attempts and defended 86 percent of his opponents'. And that's against the best MMA competition in the world.
"Rush" has defended the welterweight title eight times, is riding an 11-fight win streak, and has beaten current and future UFC Hall of Famers. While the 32-year-old Canadian's striking has come under fire due to his lack of finishes, St-Pierre's jab has proven effective, just ask Josh Koscheck's orbital bone.
Yes, Askren has dominated his competition in Bellator, but Andrey Koreshkov is no Carlos Condit nor is Karl Amoussou on par with Nick Diaz, B.J. Penn, Jon Fitch, or Matt Hughes -- to name a few.
The potential Bellator transfer has accomplishments to his credit, but he's going to need a few more to inspire any confidence against one of the best fighters to enter the Octagon.
Paul Putignano lives in Southern California, where he has covered mixed martial arts and a wide array of sports across the Greater Los Angeles area. His work has been published in a variety of newspapers and online publications.
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Johny Hendricks
- Ben Askren
- Carlos Condit