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What NCCA Wrestling Champ & OIympian, Ben Askren Can Teach A Grappler

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Ben Askren is a 2x NCAA champion and current Bellator fighting champion (undefeated in 10+ MMA bouts). I appreciate the interview with Ben, who is now for the first time offering a DVD course on Wrestling and Control for combat sports called “The Manhandling Manifesto,” which is available only for a limited time. Check it out here, and thanks again to Ben!

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Askren in a Grappling Tournament

Exerting your dominance at a consistent and brooding way is a tough task to ask a mixed martial arts fighter.  The every-day demand of being the best takes a vital toll on a fighter in various ways.  There are few men that can say they boast an undefeated record, have gold, and compete against elite competitors.

However, there is one man that meets that criteria.   No it isn’t Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre or even Anderson Silva…it’s a man whose name is well known in the MMA world but may not turn heads right away.  He may look like an everyday guy, but his skills and work ethic sure isn’t “everyday” or average.  In fact, little is “average” when it comes to Ben Askren.

What Can the BJJ World Learn from Ben Askren?

An elite wrestler in college, Askren collected various accolades during his days at University of Missouri.  Upon leaving college, he drove a mere 30 minutes from his home in Hartland, Wisconsin to visit Roufusport, one of the best gyms in the entire MMA universe.

Home to guys such as Anthony Pettis, Erik Koch, Sergio Pettis and world-renowned coach, Duke Roufus, it was an easy choice for Askren to join such an impressive stable of young, talented fighters.

The first four fights of Ben’s venture into MMA all shared one similar trait: he ended them…and fast.  Not one of his first four fights left the first frame; one ending via TKO, two by way of submission and one by way of technical submission (aka the other guy took a nap.)

What the BJJ world can most learn from Ben is his training philosophy. In the book “The Unexpected Champion” (based off interviews with Askren), he breaks down how he was in total control of his training on the wrestling mat, always determining what was most important to work on, and the best ways to drill / spar to cultivate those skills. This ACTIVE approach to training – combined with a regimen of visualization – made Ben one of America’s most famous NCAA champions (2 times over), despite coming from Missouri which had no record of high-level successes like Ben’s.

Anyone in the BJJ world can probably relate to Ben’s story. Few of us have coaches that determine a training regimen JUST for us, and those of us who succeed are usually the ones who take “Serious training”… well… seriously! This kind of self-design was initially Ben’s sign of serious commitment to wrestling… then it was his hallmark of being a champion. That’s a dedication for a grappler to live up to.

Bellator’s Finest & Fighting Like A Wrestler

Starting with his second fight in Bealltor, Askren began facing tough, tough opponosition.  Dan Hornbuckle, Lyman Good, Nick Thompson; Ben was given some very difficult guys.  In the process, it seemed that Ben had found his niche as a fighter.  Unlike his first four fights that ended in the first round, Ben began taking his opponents into deep waters and testing their cardio.

Becoming known for his “ground & pound” style, Ben would put fighters right on their back and make them deal with his dominant top-game from there.  While this style of fighting doesn’t always resonate well with the fans, it has been proven to be an effective fighting style.  Go ahead and boo, Ben still has the gold around his waist, I’m sure he doesn’t mind.

Feeling Golden

His opponents didn’t get easier after his entry into the promotion, but what do you expect when you’re a champion?  Askren went on to beat guys like Jay Heiron, Douglas Lima and Karl Amossou.  These three wins would elevate Askren to elite level: 11-0 and a champion.

Since he found his groove as a fighter, more and more people are starting to proclaim Askren as one of the best fighters in the welterweight division, anywhere in the world.  That’s a high praise given the fact guys such as Georges St. Pierre, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit & Rory MacDonald all call the division home.

For the fans, like it or not, the King of MMA-based-wrestling is here.  He has made his home, and doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.  So go ahead and boo him if you’d like, chances are his hand will be raised in victory either way.

-Daniel Faggella

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