One such fighter was Bellator welterweight champion, Ben Asken.
In an interview with Bloodyelbow.com’s Steph Daniels, Askren touched on training camp and his thoughts on Rory MacDonald.
Here’s a snip:
Stephie Daniels: Talk about working with B.J. Penn for his training camp.
Ben Askren: Yeah, it was good. I’ve been a B.J. Penn fan way before I had even considered stepping into the cage. They brought me out there mainly to be a big, strong training partner, and kind of give him the Rory MacDonald style. That’s basically what they were wanting, so that’s what I did.
Stephie Daniels: How do you think the fight is going to go?
Ben Askren: Obviously, MacDonald has got the size and strength advantage, but I think B.J. has got the boxing advantage. I think, if it goes to the mat, he’s definitely got the jiu jitsu advantage. I really think he’s in better shape than he’s been in for his more recent fights. Hopefully, B.J. goes in there and smashes him. I think that’s what a lot of people would be really excited to see.
Stephie Daniels: B.J. has come out and said that the negative comments he gets on social media and the lack of being included in “greatest champion” conversation as much as he once was, are the motivational factors for the new fire in him. As someone that has also faced social media criticism, does that also push or motivate you?
Ben Askren: For me, I really try not to worry about what people are saying. I don’t have a bunch of “yes men” around me, so they’re going to tell me the truth, and tell me what I need to hear. I pretty much ignore what people are saying and I don’t really get too much into it.
Stephie Daniels: You’re very entertaining on Twitter, especially on fight nights, and tend to engage with lots of people. Is there anybody out there that’s managed to get under your skin and annoy you to some degree?
Ben Askren: You know, I don’t really follow that many people on Twitter. Only a handful, like 40 or so. [Laughs] It’s the funniest thing. All these people don’t like me, yet they follow me on Twitter, just to say some shit to me whenever I say something. I’m like, ‘Well, why are you following me in the first place?’ Idiots. Actually, I’d have to say Rory MacDonald. I mean, I’ve helped B.J., so I have a biased opinion, and I want B.J. to win, but just the way he tries to dress up so fancy, I think that might annoy me [laughs]. I just don’t know what to think about that.
Stephie Daniels: What part of his dress code is most annoying to you?
Ben Askren: Well, I don’t really wear much else other than sweat pants and a T shirt or jeans and a T shirt. It’s the whole thing with him. He puts so much effort in the look that he wants everyone to see. I just think that’s kind of goofy. I’m not too much into new fashion stuff, but I wouldn’t be caught dead … you couldn’t pay me enough to wear an outfit like he wears.
Stephie Daniels: Since we’re talking about Rory, do you feel it’s a big advantage for him to be able to train with GSP, especially since Georges has beaten B.J. twice?
Ben Askren: The first Penn/GSP fight was very controversial. A lot of people think B.J. won that fight. The second one was a little more decisive, but then you had Greasegate also going on there. I think Rory’s size is going to be his biggest advantage, because he’s definitely a lot bigger guy than B.J.