Ben Askren confirmed yesterday that he will be retiring on November 24, but if he’s given the opportunity to prove he’s the best the world he will make an exception.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour yesterday, Askren confirmed that his fight against Shinya Aoki will be his last for ONE Championship. The ONE welterweight champion did however throw in the stipulation that if he’s offered to prove to everyone that he is the best in the world, then he will take it.
“That’s true, but there is one caveat, and obviously he made a Facebook post so he didn’t really explain it,” Askren said, regarding ONE Championship Founder Chatri Sityodtong’s post announcing his retirement. “The one and only one way I’d come back for another fight is if it was for the number one spot in the world. Not two, not three, not four, not five, none of those spots.
“Only against the number one guy in the world and obviously the second part of that is his name isn’t Tyron Woodley because I have no interest in fighting Tyron, he’s a very good friend of mine. But, if the number one guy in the world’s name wasn’t Tyron Woodley then I would come back to prove I was number one. Apart from that I’m retired. I don’t need to come back to prove I’m two, three or four, anything in there. I’ll be done.”
Why He’s Retiring
Askren then went on to explain the reason for his retirement despite the fact he’s currently unbeaten at 17-0-1 and winning fights without even getting hit.
“When I was growing up I read athlete’s biographies religiously, like every sport, golf, tennis, baseball, basketball, football, boxing, you name it,” Askren said. “Probably combat sports more than anything, but pretty much across the board I read them and so there’s two reasons.
“The first reason is because nobody retires in time. If you think about who retires during heir prime, the number of athletes that did that in any sport is very small and obviously in sport like golf, where we see Tiger Woods fall off, well there’s not really too much damage he can take from that. Still, when you watch him and he sucks you’re like ‘God he used to be so good, but he sucks now.’ It’s kinda disconcerting as a fan right?
“Then you look at someone like Muhammed Ali, who was literally like my favourite athlete of all time, the punishment he took for sticking around past his prime, man we can’t prove [anything], but I guess it probably led to a lot of the problems he had later in his life.
Askren then brought the conversation back around to his own situation and explained why this was the retirement date he decided on.
“We’re in a combat sport and it’s dangerous. I’m not physically at the peak I was four to five years ago and it’s a slippery slope. Can I compete with the best in the world? Yeah of course, but then you start getting a little worse, a littler worse and a little worse, so when is that cut off? So for me, I said to myself this is going to be it for me and I said it a while back and I’m going to stick by it because I need to be disciplined in that manner. I think a lot of athletes don’t do that for themselves.”
Time Coaching And With Family
The ONE Welterweight Champion then explained the second reason behind his decision to hang up the 4-oz. gloves.
“Secondly, if you’re competing right, competition should be a very selfish pursuit,” Askren said. “When I was younger, I said I would be done by the time I’m 30 because I wanted to be able to give back. I thought I would be coaching and I am. And I thought I would be a parent and I am. You know, there are a lot of things that I have to do, for instance, I haven’t coached anyone for the last six weeks at AWA because this was my time and I needed to get ready.
“There were also things I missed out in my kid’s life because this is my time and I have to get ready. Those are the main two reasons why I set an expiration date for myself.”