UFC veteran Ben Askren advises younger fighters against pursuing MMA run: ‘It’s a sh*tty career’

Ben Askren
Mandatory Credit: Chris Unger - Zuffa LLC

Former UFC welterweight contender, Ben Askren has advocated against pursuing a professional mixed martial arts career as a young, up-and-coming fighter, highlighting the luck involved in order to land within a big promotion, as well as the expenses of just competing and preparing to compete. 

Askren, a former Bellator MMA and ONE Championship welterweight champion to boot, called time on his professional mixed martial arts career back in November 2019, after undergoing surgery to address a long-standing hip injury. 

Competing on three occasions under the banner of the UFC following high-profile swap from ONE Championship which saw former UFC flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson move in the opposite direction, Askren debuted in the Octagon in 2019.

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Landing a controversial bulldog choke win over former welterweight titleholder, Robbie Lawler in his landing, Askren then found himself on the receiving end of the fastest knockout loss in UFC history, after Jorge Masvidal landed a stunning 5-second flying knee KO.

Ben Askren last competed in October 2019 in his final UFC bout

Headlining UFC Fight Night Kallang back in October of that year, Ben Askren, now 38, suffered a technical submission loss to Demian Maia courtesy of a third round rear-naked choke.

Returning to combat sports for a professional boxing match against Jake Paul last year, Askren suffered a first round knockout defeat.

Outlining the financial barriers and risk factors in pursuing a career in professional mixed martial arts, Askren advised young fighters from putting all their eggs in the proverbial sport basket. 

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“I usually advocate against MMA, it is a sh*tty career,” Ben Askren told MMA Junkie during a recent interview. “You know, I say, many thousands of people across America want to do MMA. Man, you make it to the UFC – this is what I talk them through when they’re not ‘that’ skilled. Make it to the UFC – which, that’s hard, right? You’re gonna have to do a bunch of amateur fights, and a bunch of low-level pro fights, someone’s gonna have to see you, you’re gonna have to not get injured. All these good things are gonna have to happen for you.” 

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“You make it the UFC, and you’re on a baseline contract, and you win all three fights your first year, you probably make like $80,000,” Ben Askren explained. “Well, okay, that’s alright. But then, hold on, you didn’t pay your management, you didn’t pay your trainer, you didn’t pay your taxes. Sh*t, you’re sitting on $30,000 to $40,000, you’re living at the poverty level – and that’s if you won all three fights. And if everything goes really well for you – MMA is not a great career.”