We’ve seen many fighters handle losses well, but perhaps none quite like Ben Askren.
Askren suffered his first pro loss in devastating fashion when he was knocked out in just five seconds – a UFC record – by Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239. He handled the loss just about as well as anyone could.
And his coach Duke Roufus, who was in his corner for the July 6 fight, praised Askren for the way he handled things and his ability to address the media just days after.
“One, it’s a special winning attitude,” Roufus told MMA Junkie Radio (go to the 1:23:46 mark in the video above). “Even in losing, he’s going to focus on winning again right away, and how do you do that? You own it, you deal with, you accept it and you figure it out. He’s a great role model for young wrestlers, athletes and mixed martial arts.
“Don’t play the blame game. It’s so easy to make up excuses. It’s a mixed martial arts fight. He also gave Jorge a lot of credit – great move, and he even said he doesn’t deserve a rematch. Ben’s very candid, and that’s what I love about him.”
Askren did a lot of talking prior to the fight, and successfully built it up to one of the most anticipated fights on a stacked card that had two championship bouts with two of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes.
The build-up made the fall down that much harder. But Askren seemed to take it all in stride. Naturally, Roufus was concerned when Askren went down and admitted he wasn’t quite sure what happened since everything happened so quickly with Masvidal’s flying knee.
“Anytime a guy goes down on the canvas and they’re hurt, as long as I’ve been doing this, it never gets easier,” Roufus said. “It never gets better. I was very concerned. I didn’t see the move happen exactly, so when I saw Ben on the mat, I thought maybe his orbital was smashed, his nose, and it looked like he was in a lot of pain. It was hard, and luckily it landed on the neck – but they all hurt.
“Just a great attitude and … MMA is such a crazy sport in the cage that there’s so many ways to win and lose that you got to be prepared to lose in this thing. It’s very hard to be Floyd Mayweather, undefeated.”
Roufus didn’t get a chance to speak to Askren right after the fight since he was rushed to a hospital. A former fighter himself and a renowned coach, Roufus has seen it all and was happy with the way Askren was taken care of after the fight.
“The UFC were worried about his health, so they rushed him out,” Roufus said. “He was taken straight from the medicals in the back to the hospital, and I applaud the UFC, the Nevada State Athletic Commission. I just love that they’re so cautious.”
Masvidal followed up with two shots after Askren was out cold, which he dubbed as “super necessary.” Many were critical of Masvidal’s actions, but Roufus said he didn’t pay much mind to it.
“I didn’t really pay attention,” Roufus said. “It was in the moment and they’re fighters. But my thing is, just have some rules of engagement with the smack talk, too. Just keep it cheeky, funny – that’s cool. Let’s face it: We all love Muhammad Ali. He was one of the best trash talkers. Just don’t insult people’s families, cultures. I think MMA is growing exponentially, and lets use this to unify people, not divide.”
For complete coverage of UFC 239, check out the UFC results.
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