Ben Askren Interview – Wrestling as an Advantage in Grappling and MMA

Dan Faggella is a National Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor, and author of “The Unexpected Champion” – which he authored after lengthy interviews with Ben Askren himself. To get the actual notes from Dan’s Ben Askren interviews – and Ben’s 5 Keys to Training Effectiveness – go to:

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There comes a time in wrestler’s lives when they have to question what their next step will be.  Since childhood, wrestling was all they knew and the elite wrestlers were able to take their skills all the way to a college degree.  But after that, what’s next?  Sure there is tournaments here-and-there, but those may not carry the same weight.

For a crop of athletes that have the motivation of 15 men, there is only one sport that pushes them like their wrestling days did.  Strength & conditioning, learning and honing their skills, making weight; you name it.  Once their wrestling days are in the books, the next logical step is rather simple.

Have No Fear…MMA Is Here!

ben askren stance

Started as a Wrestler, Became and MMA Champ. Ben Askren’s is Not an Uncommon Story!

Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, Chael Sonnen, Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Ben Askren, Georges St. Pierre, Johnny Hendricks, Gray Maynard, Urijah Faber, Rick Story, Michael Chandler, Jon Fitch, Chris Weidman, Daniel Cormier.

Take a wild guess what all those men have in common with one another?  That’s right; they’re all wrestlers who became stars in the MMA world!  Especially in this day in age, having a dominant foundation in wrestling is what separates good MMA fighters from great fighters.

For a while if possessed lightening fast hands then you were the kingpin.  Then along came the wave of dominant BJJ players so a lethal submission game was what ruled the landscape.  Now, with both boxing and BJJ being two things most fighters learn right away, wrestling is now the king.

Having a dominant top game can dictate a fight no matter where it goes.  Getting an advantageous position and then pressing your entire body weight can cause your opponent to lose all will to fight and that’s without doing much work!

Askren as a Wrestling and MMA Authority

Bellator Champion, Ben Askren, was a notable college wrestler during his days at the University of Missouri.  He has gone on to compile an 11-0 MMA record as well as being regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the sport.

“Setup is probably the biggest difference for pure wrestling and wrestling for MMA,” Askren claims.  “In wrestling there is a good amount of hand fighting but in MMA it’s about setups with punches and kicks.”  Askren pin-points one of the roadblocks many talented wrestlers face in MMA with the above statement.

In a fight, wrestlers have to be concerned with two things while shooting for the takedown: 1) getting clipped with a strike and 2) exposing themselves to a submission.  The level change, if timed poorly, can be met with a hard shot, knee, kick, etc. sending them straight to the mat.  Also, if they aren’t careful, their neck is just begging for a guillotine!

Like all things, wrestling in MMA does have some pitfalls that must be addressed by the individual that embarks down that path.  However, once those holes are fixed, then the wrestler-turned-fighter has a bright, bright future ahead of them in the world of MMA. Keep those takedowns sharp!

-Dan Faggella

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