Last week Bellator FC announced the signing of welterweight prospect Ben Askren. The 2008 Olympian is seen as a quality signing for the budding promotion. A lot has been made about American wrestlers moving into MMA since there is very little money in pure wrestling. However, Askren intends to continue to compete in both sports. The dual desire left him with one of busiest schedules of 2009. 2010 should be just as busy. In addition to the BFC tournament, “Funky” also recently announced that he intends to compete for the U.S. in the freestyle world championships. Let’s take a look back at Ben Askren’s 2009.
2/7/2009 MMA Debut against Josh Flowers
Six months after competing in the 2008 Olympic Games, Askren made his MMA debut on a card he also promoted. He quickly dispatched Josh Flowers in the first round. After an early takedown, he moved the mount and then the back. Heavy strikes forced the referee to stop the fight after 1:25. (video)
4/25/2009 MMA Fight against Mitchell Harris
Askren returned to the cage two months later. Once again he got an early takedown. This time he locked up an arm-triangle choke and finished the fight by submission. This time it took 1:27. (video)
8/28/2009 MMA Fight against Matt Delanoit
After a four-month break it was more of the same. This time the finish came by way of a north-south choke. (video)
9/26/2009 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championships
Akren first grappling competition experience came in the world’s premiere grappling tournament. On the first day he defeated Finland’s Toni Linden with arm-triangle choke. On the second day he ran into eventual champion Pablo Popovitch and lost by foot lock submission.
10/22/2009 USA Wrestling Grappling World Team Trials
Akren won the event in the under 84 kg division. He scored three submissions and then defeated UFC fighter Jacob Volkmann 6-0 in the final. (video: semifinal)
10/23/2009 Sunkist International Open
Only one day after the grappling trials, Akren returned to freestyle wrestling for the first time since the Olympics. Akren competed at 84 kg, his normal weight is 74 kg, and placed second. In the finals he lost to his old nemesis Chris Pendleton. Askren lost to Pendleton in the 2004 and 2005 NCAA finals. (video: semifinal)
11/7/2009 Hargobind International
Askren returned to his natural weight of 74 kg and won the prestigious Hargobind International in Canada. In the finals he defeated Canadian Olympian Matt Gentry.
12/12/2009 FILA Grappling World Championships
This past weekend Askren won a world championship. He once again defeated Jacob Volkmann in the finals. He said in an interview he was leaving the next day for a wrestling training camp. Would you expect anything less from one of the most active multi-sport athletes? (video: semifinal)
Richard Anderson Mann is an MMA journalist who makes his home in Chicago. He is a member of the Journalism Master’s degree program at Roosevelt University. Currently, he is a columnist for PROMMA.info and a news writer for adcombat.com. Richard can be reached by email at RichardAndersonMann@gmail.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/RichardAndersonMann.