This past weekend at Bellator 56, Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren survived a five round contest with veteran slugger Jay Hieron. I must say after pre fight comments like ‘there is nothing he can do to stop me from doing what I want’, I was expecting to see a ‘next big thing’ sort of talent out of Askren. After watching the entire five round fight twice, I gotta say, I don’t see it.
I’ll give Askren a little credit for humility, as after the fight he was not arrogant and he also stated that he was not happy with his performance.
An argument can be made that Jay Hieron won this fight. He clearly won the first and fifth rounds, and the third and fourth were pretty close. Hieron for his part, had to think he was ahead in the fifth round, where he had his most dominant moments, but decided to showboat instead of trying to close out the fight. This was a big mistake on Hieron’s part, because he was behind on the judges card and needed a finish to get the win. As it turned out, one judge had the bout for Hieron 48-47, while the other two had it for Askren by the same score.
Askren shows a lot of good qualities. Obviously he is a stud who won’t be out wrestled in MMA any time soon. He has that confidence many wrestlers bring that comes with excelling at international competition. But in terms of where he stands as a welterweight in MMA, he is unlikely to make any noise right now.
Take a look at my blog on the UFC’s matchmaking - http://blog.betdsi.com/questions-about-ufc-matchmaking/
Askren is a classic example of what I describe as a guy with potential and talent, but a guy who needs ‘ten more fights’ of increasing difficulty so that he can develop. Lyman Good, Dan Hornbuckle and Nick Thompson are quality wins. He needs a lot more of that before he can be named with the top welterweights in the world.
Askren has great credentials. So does Daniel Cormier, Strikeforce’s heavyweight wrestler. The difference is that Cormier has absolutely smashed people and leaves very little doubt he is going to be a top guy, and is already. He is a Cain Velasquez and Jon Jones type of talent. Askren is going to take more time to develop, he is a notch below that level of talent. So take good care of this kid Bjorn, you just may wind up with a good fighter in a few years if you bring him along right.