The Best Base For MMA

On this episode, Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan breakdown UFC 235, Askren vs Lawler, the Oklahoma State Rogers vs Smith wrestle off, as well as their predictions for the BIG 10 conference tournament. Wrestling is without a doubt proven to be the best background to have under your belt going into mixed martial arts. A lot of the UFC roster either comes from a wrestling background or has trained and become proficient in wrestling during their MMA careers. Seven out of the eight current men’s UFC champions come from collegiate or national wrestling backgrounds. That being said, Askren brings wrestling to the MMA conversation more than anyone. Not only is he deeply involved in wrestling world through this podcast and his wrestling academies but his fighting style is mostly pure wrestling styles. There is no confusion about his gameplan. Ben tells us exactly what he’s going to do, and that’s wrestle.

A Champion Mentality (6:31)

Dernlan asks how Askren felt about going from the build-up of his previous fights in promotions such as Bellator and ONE Championship to the press/media monster that is the UFC. Askren said it seemed normal, natural, and almost past due. Similar to his Mental Monday: “State Tournament – Just Another Match?” where he explained how not to obsess over big matches. That will only hinder your performance. Acknowledge the fact you could either win or lose but don’t get caught up in the “what ifs” of a losing outcome. Dernlan makes a good point that winning or losing will not define you as the person you are, nor will it fundamentally change you.

Simplify and Adjust the Game Plan (13:45)

There is no controversy, in Askren’s eyes, in his win over former UFC Champ Robbie Lawler. Askren does believe Lawler went out for a split second and that there was no way he was getting out of that hold with over a minute and thirty seconds left in the round. Dernlan asks Askren to talk more about adjusting the plan when your intentions are unsuccessful. In the opening minute and sequence of the fight, Askren shot for a double, Lawler sprawled and Askren dragged and almost took his back. Lawler slipped his arm out and shot up onto his feet holding Askren, then dumping him back onto the canvas. The last person Askren experienced with that explosive type of strength was 4x finalist, 2x NCAA Champion Isaiah Martínez. Lawler caught his wrist and Askren took a lot of damage until he could turn on his back, free his arm and grab a hold of him. It’s the perfect example of making live adjustments to something you didn’t plan on.

The Responsibility of a MMA Referee (18:45)

In the moment, Askren was not worried about the referee Herb Dean stopping the fight. All that was going through his mind was getting a hold of Lawler’s wrist that was punching him and getting his other hand free. As a fighter in the octagon, you have a responsibility in a situation where your life could be potentially in danger and you must show you are still actively and intelligently fighting. Askren did so while Lawler was on top of him. If Lawler really never fainted/went out, he failed to properly show the ref that. A referee has an immense amount of internal pressure with two individuals lives in their hands. Life long health effects could occur by allowing a fighter to take extra damage after they are rendered unconscious.

Analyzing the Choke (21:04)

In Askren’s situation, the bulldog choke was locked up across Lawler’s chin and wasn’t fully cutting off the flow of air in his windpipe. Instead, Askren’s squeeze was primarily restricting blood flow to the brain. When the ref first dropped down to check on Lawler, Askren relaxed and with a blood choke sometimes that’s all the person being choked needs. Clearing up confusion to anyone who hasn’t been choked out before, Askren explains the fighter awakens immediately after the choke release.

Future Plans (26:59)

Askren is headed to London to watch UFC Fight Night 147. He’ll be there to watch his hopeful next opponent Darren Till take on Jorge Masvidal. After, Askren and Dernlan will be doing live podcasts watching and talking about the NCAA finals.

BIG 10 Conference Championship (31:43)

With the final seeds being released for the BIG 10 Championship, Askren and Dernlan give their predictions on the outcomes. At 125 lbs both Askren and Dernlan agree they’d be very surprised if Sebastian Rivera and Spencer Lee didn’t end up in the finals against each other. Askren and Dernlan both pick Rivera to win. 133 lbs is a different story with so many different ways it could shake out. They both believe Stevan Micic will get the victory over whoever he’s matched up against in the finals whether that’s Nick Suriano, Austin Desanto, or Ethan Lizak. 141 lbs — Askren is predicting an upset with No. 8 Tristan Moran ending up in the finals. He sees him facing off against No. 3 Joey McKenna but not being able to get the win over McKenna. Dernlan thinks No. 2 Nick Lee gets the win in the finals over No. 5 Mike Carr. 149 lbs Micah Jordan vs Anthony Ashnault and both see Jordan coming away with the victory. 157 lbs Jason Nolf with the win over Ryan Deakin. 165 lbs Dernlan has Alex Marinelli winning over Vincenzo Joseph but Askren recently worked out with Evan Wick and sees him beating both wrestlers. At 174 lbs, both Askren and Dernlan agree Mark Hall wins over Myles Amine in the finals. At 184 lbs they predict Myles Martin will beat out Shakur Rasheed. 197 lbs — Askren doesn’t want to doubt Bo Nickal’s pinning ability again and agrees with Dernlan that Nickal will pin Kollin Moore for the second time this season in the finals. Heavy Weight — Askren picks Gable Steveson to dominate Anthony Cassar.


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Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan host the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast. Askren, World Champion, and Olympic Wrestler joins in official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from years of experience in D1 college coaching at Binghamton, Clarion, and Penn State University.

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