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UFC welterweight Ben Askren has decided to hang up his gloves for the final time.
Citing a need for hip replacement surgery, Askren on Monday announced via ESPN that he is retiring from fighting.
“I’m retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts and, frankly, I’m retiring from everything,” said Askren. “I’ve been having hip problems and I finally had the discussion with my doctor and I actually got the MRI before my last fight and I need a hip replacement.
“That’s it for me. I’ve been thinking about this for a week and kind of what I was going to say. Really I’ve just been filled with gratitude for how great of a career I’ve been able to have, even though in the end it did not turn out to go my way.”
Ben Askren's championship career
Though his UFC tenure was much shorter than he had planned, Askren has achieved many milestones in a professional fighting career that began in 2009, piggybacking off of his wrestling career. He was a two-time NCAA national champion and also earned a spot on the 2008 Olympic team in Beijing.
Askren's mixed martial arts career saw him go undefeated in stints as the Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight titleholder. He retired undefeated with the ONE Championship belt in 2017, but returned to fighting when ONE made a blockbuster trade, sending him to the UFC in exchange for former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.
Askren won his first fight in the Octagon by submitting former champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 in early 2019. He made two subsequent trips to the Octagon. He lost via a blistering 5-second flying knee knockout courtesy of Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239 and then via technical submission to Demian Maia of the UFC Fight Night main event in Singapore.
Ben Askren's hip problem has been lingering for years
Going into the fight with Maia, Askren already knew that he was having trouble with his hip, but was intent on fighting until the doctors finally said that he needed to get the hip replaced. In fact, he had trouble with his hip before he ever set foot in the Octagon, but he tried for the past year to work through it.
"I’ve been having hip issues for three to five years somewhere in there. When I came back and started training in December it got really bad. I visited my doctors in Columbia, who I kept in touch with, that’s where I went to college, and I went down there and I got an x-ray and I got a PRP (platelet rich plasma) shot. The PRP shot helped significantly with the pain, but not with the mobility at all," said Askren.
“They saw the x-ray and said you’re all jacked up but you can just keep going and whenever you’re done we’ll fix it. In August, it had gotten pretty bad again and I went down there and got another PRP shot and that didn’t really help all that much. I consulted with that doctor and he said why don’t you get the MRI before your fight, I’ll look at it and when you’re done with your fight, we’ll scope your hip and that will give you a couple years worth of relief. You’ll probably need to get the hip replacement at some point.”
Following the loss to Maia, Askren consulted with his doctor, who said that he needed to get his hip replaced. He spoke with several more doctors, all of whom said that once he has the surgery, his athletic career is pretty much done.
Though things haven't gone the way he would have liked in his move to the UFC, Askren is calling it a career and going to get the hip replacement.
After more than a decade in the fight game, Askren finishes his professional career 19-2 with one no contest, and having held world championship titles in two of the most prominent fight promotions in mixed martial arts history.