Someone call James Brown. The Funk… has stopped.
UFC welterweight Ben “Funky” Askren announced his retirement earlier today on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. The former ONE and Bellator champion cited long-standing hip issues along with his current two-fight skid as the reason to leave the octagon behind.
“I got the MRI before my last fight,” Askren told Helwani. “I need a hip replacement.” Askren said that these issues had been troubling him for the past three or five years and spiked up last December. Askren then expressed nothing but gratitude to his fans and the career he was able to have in MMA.
From the beginning, Askren’s run with the UFC was unprecedented. Cited by many like Joe Rogan as the greatest fighter not signed with the UFC, his eventual trade to the promotion in exchange for Demetrious Johnson back in 2018 was met with widespread excitement. Spitting hot fire and cyberbullying the best fighters in his weight class, it looked like the age of Funk had arrived.
One very controversial submission win over Robbie Lawler later, and Askren’s invincibility is called into question. Undeterred, the wrestler continued verbally abusing the likes of Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. The later of whom would be Askren’s second UFC opponent, and the first fighter ever to knock him out in a record-setting first-round finish.
With a 1-1 record and title contention no longer in his immediate future, Askren was set up with legendary BJJ black belt and UFC legend Demian Maia for a fight featuring two of the most prolific grapples in the sport today. While a much more close contest than his last two fights, Askren scoring multiple takedowns and establishing control, he would go on to be submitted with an RNC in the third round.
With a UFC record of 1-2, many may consider Askren’s run to be a disappointment. While unexpectedly short, the man came out of a two-year retirement with joint problems to risk his undefeated record against the best martial artists in the world. All backseat coaches out there would do well to remember that.