While some may feel Ben Askren vs. Demian Maia is a boring fight, UFC analyst Dan Hardy believes it is anything but.
It was recently reported that the UFC was planning on having Askren face Maia once he’s cleared to fight in September. Askren, of course, is coming off a devastating flying knee knockout defeat to Jorge Masvidal earlier this month.
Maia won’t be an easy task either as his jiujitsu prowess would likely negate Askren’s wrestling. And with some recent lackluster affairs between Maia and other wrestlers such as Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman, many feel this will be uneventful fight as well. Not Hardy though:
“Oh, I love it,” Hardy said on MMA on SiriusXM. “I think it’s a fascinating fight because the one thing that Askren wants to do, which is wrestle, is the one thing you don’t really want to do against Demian Maia. And with Demian Maia’s game, the one thing he has to do in order to play his game the best is to wrestle his opponent to the ground so he can strangle them. And that’s where Askren kind of dictates the pace of this fight.“
There’s always the possibility of this fight turning out to be Askren stuffing multiple Maia takedown attempts. However, Hardy feels “Funky” is the kind of fighter who will look to engage with the Brazilian on the ground:
“My concern is that Askren’s gonna decide to use his wrestling to keep this fight standing,” he continued. “Then we’re gonna see a display of the worst striking in the welterweight division from two guys that really want to be grappling, but just neither of them want to take the risk. Although, this is the kind of fight where Askren rises to the occasion and takes risks that most people would expect him not to.
“Like if you’re Askren, the smart thing to do is to stuff those takedowns and keep it standing. But knowing Askren, he’s gonna go out there, he’s gonna take Demian Maia and dominate him on the mat. And that might make this fight very interesting because I think Demian Maia’s got an understanding of how to manipulate people on the floor that it just might be on the polar opposite end of grappling to what Ben Askren’s used to, and it might cause him issues. I think it’s a fascinating one. And I’m all for watching high-level grapplers come against each other just as I am with high-level strikers.”
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