Ben Askren: Wrestling and MMA | Lex Fridman Podcast #242 | Summary and Q&A

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November 20, 2021
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Ben Askren: Wrestling and MMA | Lex Fridman Podcast #242

TL;DR

Ben Askren, a former wrestler and MMA fighter, discusses his wrestling career, his MMA record, and his thoughts on the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What were Ben Askren's thoughts on the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight?

Askren believed that Woodley won the fight, considering him more effective with striking and aggression. He acknowledges that some people saw it differently and thought Paul landed more significant punches.

Q: Was Ben Askren surprised that an elite-level athlete like Tyron Woodley lost to someone who takes boxing seriously but may not be considered elite?

Askren believes that boxing is a specific rule set that differs from mixed martial arts. Woodley's expertise in MMA, including elements like takedowns and kicks, did not fully translate to the boxing ring. He acknowledged that Jake Paul is not a bad boxer and has put in a lot of effort to improve.

Q: Does Ben Askren think that Tyron Woodley would win against Jake Paul in a rematch?

Askren believes that if Woodley turns up the pace and Jake Paul can't handle it, Woodley would likely win in a rematch. However, he also considers the possibility of a close split decision and believes that more matches would provide a better indication of the future outcome.

Q: How does Ben Askren analyze his own boxing match with Jake Paul?

Askren analyzes the fight by acknowledging that he got hit with an overhand right that resulted in his loss. He mentions that his training time for the fight was limited due to recovering from hip surgery and being in a heavier weight division than usual. Despite the loss, he enjoyed the training and would have done it again if given the opportunity.

Summary

In this conversation with Ben Askren, a former wrestler and MMA fighter, he shares his thoughts on the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight, his own boxing match with Jake Paul, and his wrestling career. Ben discusses his analysis of the fight between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley, his surprise at the split decision, and his thoughts on Jake Paul's boxing skills. He also talks about the differences between boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) and how those differences can affect the outcome of fights. Ben shares his thoughts on the chances of a rematch between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley and the potential outcomes of that fight. He also reflects on his own boxing match with Jake Paul and how he analyzes the fight and his own performance. Ben discusses his training for the fight and the challenges he faced due to his hip surgery. He also talks about his wrestling career, his training with Jordan Burroughs, and how he thinks he would match up against Burroughs in his prime. Ben shares his insights on Burroughs' wrestling style and how it has evolved over the years.

Questions & Answers

Q: What did Ben Askren think of the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight?

Ben thought Tyron Woodley won the fight with five rounds to three. He believed that Tyron was more effective with striking and more aggressive, while Jake had more volume. Ben acknowledged that his perspective might be biased but felt that Woodley won the fight.

Q: Was Ben surprised by the split decision in the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight?

Ben was not surprised by the split decision because there was uncertainty around Jake Paul's skills in boxing. He acknowledged that it's possible Jake is good at boxing and that his training and dedication to the sport should not be underestimated.

Q: Why do elite level athletes sometimes lose to those who take the sport seriously but are not at an elite level?

Ben explained that boxing is a specific rule set, and the lack of other concerns such as takedowns and kicks in boxing can make a difference for athletes coming from mixed martial arts backgrounds. In the case of Tyron Woodley, who had mainly competed in MMA, his striking skills were good but lacked the same focus as a professional boxer's first-ever boxing match.

Q: How many times out of ten does Ben think Jake Paul would win if he fought Tyron Woodley again?

Ben believes that if Tyron Woodley and Jake Paul fought multiple times, the outcome would depend on various factors. If Woodley turned up the intensity and Jake couldn't handle it, Woodley would likely win the majority of the matches. However, if the fight played out similarly to their first encounter, with a close split decision, then the outcome might be more evenly split.

Q: How would Ben analyze his own boxing match with Jake Paul?

Ben's analysis of his boxing match with Jake Paul was straightforward. He admitted that he got caught with an overhand right, and it sucked. However, he still enjoyed the training and the overall experience, and if given the chance, he would do it again even knowing the outcome.

Q: If Ben had a rematch with Jake Paul, what are the odds of him winning?

Ben was honest about his chances of winning a rematch with Jake Paul, acknowledging that it probably wouldn't be very good. He recognized that Jake Paul was good at boxing and, considering his current state as an athlete, he didn't think he would be able to beat Tyron Woodley, let alone Jake Paul.

Q: How did Ben approach his training mentally for his exhibition match against Jordan Burroughs?

Ben's training for the exhibition match against Jordan Burroughs was different from his MMA career. He wanted to experience wrestling with one of the best wrestlers in the world, and the goal was not necessarily to win but to learn from the experience. Ben talked about the insights he gained from training with Burroughs and the areas they focused on.

Q: What was it like training with Jordan Burroughs?

Ben described his training with Jordan Burroughs as a mix of full live wrestling and specific positions. They wrestled for around 12-15 minutes continuously and also spent time discussing specific positions and techniques. Ben highlighted Burroughs' inquisitiveness and his ability to constantly improve and adapt his style over the years.

Q: Can Ben beat Jordan Burroughs at the peak of both their NCAA wrestling careers?

Ben believed that he had a chance to beat Jordan Burroughs at the peak of their NCAA wrestling careers. He referenced the competitive matches between them during their college years and the fact that his wrestling style posed potential challenges for Burroughs. However, he also recognized that Burroughs had become a much better wrestler in freestyle compared to folkstyle.

Q: Were Ben's wrestling skills comparable to Burroughs in terms of style?

Ben acknowledged that his wrestling style differed from Jordan Burroughs', with Burroughs being known for his explosive double-leg takedown. However, Ben noted that Burroughs' style evolved over the years, incorporating new techniques and strategies such as mantis go-behinds and low single ankle picks. Burroughs also improved his hand fighting skills and defensive techniques.

Q: Did Ben think it was surprising that Burroughs lost to Kyle Dake in the 2021 Olympic trials?

Ben believed that Kyle Dake's victory over Jordan Burroughs in the 2021 Olympic trials was not surprising. He considered Dake's performance in the Olympics to be a shock, but overall, he believed that Dake would win against Burroughs more times than not in their matches. He noted the progression of Dake's skills and his ability to adapt and improve over time.

Q: Does Ben feel that he was adequately prepared for his fight with Jake Paul compared to his exhibition match with Burroughs?

Ben admitted that he was not wrestling-ready for his fight with Jake Paul due to his recent hip surgery. Although he worked hard to get in shape, he had limited training in wrestling due to his focus on boxing. In contrast, he felt more prepared for his exhibition match with Burroughs because he trained specifically for that event.

Q: Is Ben bothered by the fact that he is not discussed among the greats in MMA?

Ben did not seem bothered by not being in the discussion of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He acknowledged that he did not prove himself to be among the greatest, and he was content with his own assessment of his skills and achievements. He also acknowledged that he didn't have the chance to prove himself at the highest level due to factors beyond his control, such as not being signed by the UFC.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ben Askren was a dominant wrestler, winning two NCAA Division One national championships and going undefeated for 10 years in MMA with a record of 19-0.

  • He shares his thoughts on the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight, believing that Woodley won the match.

  • Askren discusses his own boxing match with Jake Paul, stating that he was not surprised by Paul's skills and would have fought him again if given the chance.

  • He reflects on his own MMA career, including his loss to Jorge Masvidal, and his decision to retire and focus on coaching wrestling.

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