ONE Championship announced earlier this week that Ben Askren's next welterweight title defense would take place April 21 in Manila, Philippines, on a fight card featuring ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang, who will also be putting his title on the line.
Askren, who remains undefeated with a record of 15-0, has long been considered one of the best welterweights in the world, but having never fought in the UFC, many still remain unconvinced he could hang with the elite in the world.
Speaking to his good friend Chael Sonnen this week on Sonnen's podcast "You're Welcome," Askren addressed the issue and said while he remains undefeated no one can dispute his claim that he deserves to be considered one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world.
"Well, I think I can make a strong argument," Askren said. "I've never been beat."
Askren was then asked to address whether he believed he could defeat the current UFC welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. Given the two are good friends and training partners at Roufusport, Askren gave a pretty political answer, saying he could see ways for both fighters to defeat the other.
"I don't like talking about that, [because] he's a good friend of mine and it would just create an awkward feeling," Askren said. "I'm actually hanging around with him this Friday at an alumni night at our wrestling state university.
"I'll give you this answer--I think it goes one of two ways, and I think it should be pretty obvious to anybody that knows martial arts. Tyron is--and this is statistical--Tyron is the hardest hitter in the division. That means when he punches, people go down. If he hits me and he connects early, then I go down. Otherwise, I'd be able to withstand that initial barrage and I think I would be able to impose my will after that."
Askren then took it a step further.
"I think at 170 pounds he'd be the toughest fight in the world for me," Askren said. "I mean, he's it. His punching power, and obviously with his wrestling background, it makes it a very tough night for me."
While he was happy to play it down the line with Woodley, Askren didn't hold back quite so much when it came to talking about the current No. 1 contender, Stephen Thompson.
"These other guys suck," Askren said. "Stephen Thompson, I'd do what I want to him. He'd be my girlfriend if I wanted him to."
Asked what he made of the first Woodley versus Thompson fight at UFC 205, Askren made it clear he thought the decision wasn't correct and that the current MMA scoring system took a clear win from Woodley.
"Tyron did more damage in one round than Stephen Thompson did in the three that he won," Askren said. "He should be rewarded as such. One of the judges was audacious enough to score that fourth round only a 10-9 for Woodley despite the fact he knocked him down over three and a half times and had him in a choke hold for a minute and a half.
"I think [the new rules allowing judges to score a round 10-7] will allow the judges to get it right more often."
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