Welterweight contenders Ben Askren and Demian Maia will meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night 162 in Singapore on Saturday, with Askren hoping to rebound from the first loss of his MMA career.
Askren (19-1) was the victim of the quickest knockout in UFC history at UFC 239 in July, losing to Jorge Masvidal in just five seconds after he was hit with a flying knee just after the opening bell.
Askren Moving Forward After Record Loss
The embarrassing nature of the loss has threatened Askren’s legacy in MMA. Most of his gaudy record came in Bellator and the One Championship, where his elite wrestling skills generally overmatched his opponents. That trend kept up with his first UFC fight, which ended with a first-round technical submission over Robbie Lawler, showing he is a force to contend with on the ground, even if he isn’t a world-class striker.
While many thought his standup game would eventually be his undoing, nobody expected that Askren’s first loss would come in just a few seconds.
“It sucks. I was on the brink of getting a title shot,” Askren told the South China Morning Post. “I’d never really been knocked down. Never been hit that hard. Then, one shot. All that s*** goes down the tubes.”
Askren says even such a devastating loss isn’t going to stop him from moving forward with his career.
“There was no time to waste sitting crying in my room,” Askren said. “I just got up and kept moving. The next week I was coaching a bunch of kids at a national tournament so life moves on, you don’t have time to sit and feel sorry for yourself.”
Maia Familiar with Quick KOs
Askren isn’t the first big-name MMA fighter to suffer a shocking defeat in a matter of seconds, as the nature of the sport lends itself to the occasional surprise right off the bat. The 41-year-old Maia (27-9) also knows how quickly an undefeated record can go away. In 2009, Nate Marquardt dropped him in just 21 seconds, putting the first blemish on Maia’s 11-0 record, which included five wins in UFC.
“That loss made me change a lot of things in my camp back then. I remember becoming more cautious on the feet,” Maia told MMA Fighting. “But he [Askren] has lost in wrestling in the past and bounced back, so I don’t expect him to be an easy fight. He had to deal with losses in wrestling, losses in training, losses in life, and still got where he is today, so he knows what he has to do.”
UFC Fight Night 162 Odds
- Demian Maia (+138) vs. Ben Askren (-170)
- Michael Johnson (-310) vs. Stevie Ray (+240)
- Frank Camacho (+114) vs. Beneil Dariush (-138)
- Ciryl Gane (-270) vs. Don’tale Mayes (+205)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
It’s unlikely this bout will be decided in the opening seconds. Both of these men are outstanding grapplers, though they come from different disciplines: Maia is a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while Askren has an Olympic wrestling background. Maia has the more well-rounded game, but as everyone except for Masvidal has found out, that hasn’t made Askren an easy puzzle to solve.
Overall, oddsmakers see the younger Askren as a slight favorite in this matchup. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Askren is a -170 pick, with Maia listed at +138.