Askren Acknowledges Masvidal Deserves Award
For many, the debate on who 2019’s fighter of the year was largely between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal.
Ideally, Ben Askren would have picked Adesanya as his choice. However, he acknowledges that it would be disingenuous as he feels Masvidal truly deserves the honor. “Funky” says that begrudgingly as he was on the receiving end of Masvidal’s knee at UFC 239 which became the fastest knockout in UFC history.
That viral moment was sandwiched in between Masvidal’s devastating knockout of Darren Till and his dominant performance over Nate Diaz at UFC 244. And considering where “Gamebred” was before 2019, it only makes him the deserving pick according to Askren:
“I’d like to pick Israel Adesanya over him, but I think – I feel like that would be disingenuous,” Askren told ESPN (via MMA Junkie). “If I have to look at it from a non-biased perspective, it’s freakin’ Jorge, and if you said that was going to happen a year ago, everyone would have said ‘You’re on drugs,’ or have some type of issue. But unfortunately, I think he deserves it.”
That would have been extremely hard for Askren to say, especially given how heated his rivalry with Masvidal was leading into the fight. Not to mention, the amount of backlash and ridicule he received afterwards.
However, Askren — who retired in November — claims the result doesn’t personally hurt him.
“It doesn’t hurt me. That’s what it is – that’s the truth. That’s the reality of the situation: It doesn’t hurt at all,” Askren added. “Now, does it feel good? No, it doesn’t feel good, either. But it’s not … that’s what happened.”
It’s hard to argue against Masvidal being fighter of the year — and he plans on having an even better 2020.