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Bye bye, Ben Askren. The “Funky” time in the mixed martial arts is over.
Wrester turned MMA champion, Askren (19-2) decided his time in the sport is over and he informed the world on “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” on ESPN on Monday.
“I’m retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts,” he said. “I am retired from everything. Obviously, it’s been something I’ve been considering.”
The former collegiate wrestling standout cited his health including an upcoming hip replacement as part of the decision.
The 35-year-old welterweight was part of the conclave of white male MMA fighters that used cultural agitation to advance their careers. Askren, like his predecessor former UFC standout Chael Sonnen and current interim welterweight champion Colby Covington, skirted the cultural line to sell his fights.
Most notably, the lead up to his brief loss against Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal produced a polarizing standoff between what can be considered MMA’s old guard and newly recognized support base.
Askren, a Iowa born wrestler that made his name at the famed Mizzou collegiate wrestling team, represents where American MMA came from. However, with the rise of champions of color and popularized fighters like Miami based Cuban-American, Masvidal, Askren played upon the natural polarized fan base of MMA.
A long-time fighter, Askren only recently made a run in the UFC after becoming a champion in both Bellator MMA and Asia’s ONE FC.
Askren went 1-2 of his three fights in the UFC after entering the UFC an undefeated former champion in two organizations.
With Covington about to face UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 245 on December 14th, the spotlight has never shone brighter for MMA’s cultural instigators. But with the retirement of Sonnen earlier this year, the absence of uber culture troll Conor McGregor and now Askren’s retirement, MMA now still has a revolving door of fighters willing to eschew a moral compass for fame.