Retired UFC star Ben Askren has swallowed his pride and picked Jorge Masvidal as his 2019 Fighter of the Year.
Heading into 2019 nobody was really giving Masvidal a second thought, whereas Askren was one of the hottest things in mixed martial arts. Then, when “Gamebred” finished Darren Till and Askren controversially submitted Robbie Lawler, the stars aligned for the two to fight at UFC 239.
In one of the most memorable finishes in UFC history, Masvidal recorded the fastest knockout in the promotion’s history by kneeing Askren into oblivion within five seconds of the fight getting underway.
Askren went on to lose once again to Demian Maia via submission, whereas Masvidal beat Nate Diaz via doctor stoppage to round off a year that had many believing he was the Fighter of the Year. When speaking with ESPN, Askren confirmed that he agreed with that thought process.
“I’d like to pick Israel Adesanya over him, but I think – I feel like that would be disingenuous,” Askren said (via MMA Junkie). “If I have to look at it from a non-biased perspective, it’s freakin’ Jorge, and if you said that was going to happen a year ago, everyone would have said ‘You’re on drugs,’ or have some type of issue. But unfortunately, I think he deserves it.”
“It doesn’t hurt me. That’s what it is – that’s the truth. That’s the reality of the situation: It doesn’t hurt at all,” Askren said. “Now, does it feel good? No, it doesn’t feel good, either. But it’s not … that’s what happened.”
With Ben Askren retiring as a result of his two losses in 2019, it’s certainly clear to see that “Funky” has been the bigger man here through his honesty. Now, many will continue to question what exactly he’s going to do next in the sport.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/7/2020.