On Monday, the former ONE Championship and Bellator champion officially announced his retirement from the sport of mixed martial arts.
According to Askren, the decision was essentially made for him after doctors revealed that he would need hip replacement surgery, which effectively stops him from competing athletically again.
“I’m retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts and frankly I’m retiring from everything,” Askren told ESPN. “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.”
Askren had mentioned the possibility of retirement in the aftermath of his most recent defeat to Demian Maia where he suffered a third-round submission in their main event clash in Singapore.
That fight followed the first loss of Askren’s career after Jorge Masvidal blasted him with a flying knee in July that resulted in the fastest knockout in UFC history with the end coming just five seconds into the opening round.
Ultimately the setbacks inside the cage didn’t lead to Askren’s decision but rather it was the medical diagnosis that forced him into retirement.
“When I came back, 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,” Askren explained. “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.
“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 conclusion of the fight with Maia in October, Askren visited with his doctors again and that’s when he received the news that ended his career.
“After my fight, I talked to him and he said ‘you need a hip replacement’,” Askren revealed. “He doesn’t do that specific procedure. I’ve talked to three or four doctors and all of them are pretty much once you do that, you’re pretty much done.”
The 2008 Olympian in freestyle wrestling had previously retired from MMA in 2017 following his last title defense in ONE Championship but he came back to fighting after a trade was organized that sent him to the UFC in exchange for Demetrious Johnson.
Askren kicked off his UFC career with a submission win over former champion Robbie Lawler but he then suffered back-to-back losses to Masvidal and Maia in his final two fights.
While Askren doesn’t walk away from the sport in the way he wanted, he still retires with a career record of 19-2 with one no-contest including two separate championship reigns in Bellator and ONE Championship that ended without actually losing his title in a fight.