Ben Askren’s coach, Duke Roufus, believes his fighter would have been a UFC champ had he of joined the promotion earlier in his career.
Askren (19-2, 1NC) recently announced his retirement from MMA after two consecutive losses in the UFC. “Funky” said a big reason he was retiring was because he has to undergo a hip replacement surgery.
After going undefeated and winning titles in both Bellator and ONE Championship, Askren controversially won his UFC debut against Robbie Lawler in March of this year. He then suffered a five-second KO loss to Jorge Masvidal, and most recently a submission loss to Demian Maia. Askren’s couch Duke Roufus feels his fighter would have fared better in the UFC had he signed with the promotion a lot earlier in his career.
“He would be champion,” Roufus told MMA Fighting. “He’d be the triple champ. ONE, Bellator, and UFC. I believe that. Unfortunately, circumstances and timing don’t work out. I’ve seen him do some special stuff in the cage and in practice ever since I met Ben, it’s just sometimes timing doesn’t line up in this industry.”
Roufus continued by saying Askren’s hip injury plagued the training camps for the three UFC fights he had in 2019. The coach was also full of praise for what Askren has achieved during his MMA career, and spoke highly of the 35-year-old’s attitude too.
It’s been bad for a while,” Roufus said. “Honestly, training camps this year were hindered due to his hip. He’s just such a tough kid, just fighting through things. Not to make excuses, but it’s definitely affected him a lot.
“His stats are wonderful. Two-time world champion. Impressive record. What I like about Ben is the person he is as a combat sports athlete. He grew to be a big, popular fighter, and still has his own voice and personality at the same time.”