On July 29, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will attempt to defend his title against Brazilian jiu jitsu wizard Demian Maia. To prepare for this difficult challenge, Woodley has been working with one of the best wrestlers in MMA, One Championship welterweight king Ben Askren.
On the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio, Ben Askren broke down his recent work with Woodley.
“It’s nice to be able to finally help [Woodley], you know?” he said of their training. “He’s been fighting Stephen Thompson, and me and Stephen Thompson’s fighting styles have no resemblance to each other whatsoever. I can wrestle with him, but it wasn’t like me wrestling with him was going to be relevant to his Stephen Thompson fight that much, right? Whereas, the Demian Maia fight, that’s right up my alley, because all the wrestling things that Demian Maia does, I can do better. Maybe I can’t do the ground stuff quite as well as Demian, but I can still give him a really good look there. So yeah, it’s nice to finally be able to be a real help for [Woodley].”
Having shared the mat with Woodley the One Championship star and former Bellator champ is very confident Demian Maia is in for a rough night. In Askren’s opinion, Woodley won’t have to worry about grappling exchanges with the Brazilian because the fight won’t even hit the mat.
“The thing is, I don’t think it’s going to hit the floor,” Askren said. “That’s the thing about it. You know, Demian Maia’s takedowns are… they’re basic. The one thing he does well is he really sticks with it. But you look at his recent run of success, and he hasn’t really had to fight any high-level wrestlers. And even Jorge Masvidal, – I don’t want to say [he has] no wrestling background, I’m not 100% sure – I don’t think he has any wrestling background, was able to stop some of the takedowns, you know? And so, when you look at Tyron Woodley who has a very strong wrestling background, I just don’t see a scenario in which Demian Maia is able to get Tyron on the ground.”
Askren then explained that, even if Maia surprises and gets ahold of a leg or a body lock, Woodley should be able to hang.
“Even in those positions, Tyron’s really good in those positions,” he said. “So even if Demian gets past the first and second-level defense, the movement and the sprawl… say he even gets to the leg and gets to a decent position, I still feel like even from there, or even from a body lock, he’s not going to get the takedown. Even if you were to ask me before I was working with him, I would have said ‘Demian’s going to have a hard time getting a takedown.’ Now I can’t foresee a scenario in which Demian gets a takedown.”
What do you think of this assessment from One Championship titleholder Ben Askren?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/13/2017.