Let’s Get This Straight.
Ben Askren Is A World Champion and an Olympian.
Many Mixed Martial Arts organizations have much to offer but…. that Olympian credential, means that Ben Askren was one of the baddest dudes on the planet. And that credential is not up for argument.
Can we argue where he ranks in MMA? Yes.
But, not about him being one of the baddest men on the planet in 2008? Nope! Not at all.
Now since we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s begin.
Let’s look at a few things.
Ben Askren is a Mixed Martial Arts competitor. He is also a world class competitor from the sport of wrestling. He has traveled the world and has a wider view of the sporting landscape than most. Where most people, see one or two organizations, he sees the world wide opportunity of Mixed Martial Arts, the continued growth of the sport and the best long term and short term options for himself.
And to make the argument that the best in the world fight one organization or the other would be false. There is no standard system for inclusion in any MMA organization and you would need an undisputed champion to make such a distinction.
The error that we make as onlookers and fans is one of comparison. Case in point, when Gilbert Melendez fought Shinya Aoki a few years ago, many looked at that fight as Gilbert Melendez dominating and also as American MMA being superior to the Asian brand of MMA. And while Melendez did in fact win, he did so under a different set of rules. Very different. It’s like taking an undefeated national champion Greco roman wrestler and putting him in a freestyle wrestling competition and then saying that he lost a wrestling match. In furtherance, in Asia Shinya Aoki beat Eddie Alvarez but lost to him in the United States. The amount of time and ability that Shinya Aoki is given to butt scoot in the Asian based organization is different and has an effect on the chronological landscape of the match. There is also a different philosophical view that many take based upon their experience with combat and combat sports. Some people view the refusal of going to the ground as “refusing to fight” while some people view the refusal to stand back up as “refusing to fight.” Both can be viewed as correct but the American and European brands of MMA have a distinct stand up bias based upon our history with boxing while other brands such as the asian brand do allow more work and time on the ground. Such a distinction is neither good nor bad, its just beneficial to acknowledge the presence of such bias.
So, now we revisit our question and then put in within five basic categories.
Did Ben Askren Make The Right Decision By Signing With One FC
Ben has a wife and family and the ability for them to travel internationally and watch him fight is a great opportunity for the family. And the opportunity of being a huge international star and then being able to return home to some sense of normalcy is a HUGE benefit.
The enormous paydays that you know of but don’t hear of in MMA are real, but they are usually the Pay-per-view deals and only the headliners and main event fighters get an option to negotiate for such monies. The payouts are made such that, the bottom dweller in the organization doesn’t have a real argument to ask for more money and the strength of the brand, of wanting to be a “Cage Fighter” is usually the only compensation that some want or need. I’ve heard many aspiring MMA fighters say that they would fight in the some organizations for free if they could just get the shot. I will never call someone’s dreams silly but fighting for free is…. well…. Silly. Ben Askren has stated that his deal provides him with such pay that meets a level of satisfaction for him and is on par with what he could expect in and from other organizations per his ranking. Also there is a GIGANTIC opportunity for wrestling clinics wrestling camps, and wrestling seminars in Asia. So that marketplace seems like a great opportunity for him financially as well.
Based upon Ben Askren’s style. The one that has made him an undefeated international Mixed Martial Arts superstar, the Bellator Champion, an Olympian and a World Champion grappler – One FC is the perfect fit. Being in a organization where the fan base has a high level of respect for grappling, is educated about the sport, does not boo, and is concerned with technical proficiency more so that an exciting slugfest is a plus for Ben. If thrust in a certain organization or situation, he could literally be placed in a situation where he takes someone down and then gets stood up because he is categorized as “boring.” The business of the promoters is to make sure fights aren’t boring. The business of competitors is to make sure that they are “effective.” And Ben Askren is not only efficient, he’s also effective. Therefore One FC is the perfect fit for him stylistically.
In closing, in my professional opinion, Ben Askren made the right move.
He’s listed as one of the top ranked welterweight fighters in the world now and if he continues to win his ranking and legend will not decrease, it will increase. A small case of futuring provides a future view that Ben Askren has the opportunity to become the next Fedor of our lifetime. Someone who never touches the UFC and gets donned as one of the baddest men on the planet.
Was it a great move? It seems to be a great one on paper, but only time will tell.