Ahead of the UFC 251 headliner between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal this weekend, Ben Askren still maintains he is the reason for the latter’s stardom.
Masvidal will step in on six days’ notice when he faces Usman for the welterweight title following the withdrawal of Gilbert Burns due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Interest in the event has increased tenfold since, especially with Masvidal being one of the biggest stars in the promotion ever since his meteoric rise last year. The one event that really catapulted him, of course, was his flying knee knockout over Askren.
Things were heated between the pair going into the fight, but all “Gamebred” needed was fie seconds to inflict Askren’s first-ever career loss. To add insult to injury, Masvidal also struck an unconscious Askren twice, later adding that they were “super necessary” — a line that became common vernacular in the mixed martial arts world.
Askren: Masvidal Has Authenticity That Fans Like
Reflecting on the rise of Masvidal, Askren takes full credit but also takes issue with those super necessary punches.
That said, he admits the line was funny because of how authentic it was and is one of the reason why fans have gravitated to the Cuban-American.
“I put the spotlight on him,” Askren told Ariel Helwani on Wednesday. “… His Twitter followers, Instagram followers, it went 5X. I put the spotlight on him, I played the foil to him. I let him shine, unfortunately right? I thought I was going to crush him.
“He says some of these things like the ‘three-piece and the soda’ that are like, maybe he’s not intentionally funny, but again it’s really authentic and people love that. You know when he said ‘effing super necessary.’ I feel like he was kind of a douche for punching me when I was already unconscious, that was just unnecessary, but he said it was ‘super necessary.’
“Like you know what, it’s pretty funny. You know, I was the dude that got punched and you know what I’ll say, ‘listen, that was Jorge being real and that was kind of funny.’ Even though it was me and I thought he was a douchebag for punching me after I was unconscious, it was kinda funny. So yes, there is a certain authenticity to Jorge that people really, really enjoy.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 8, 2020
Given that the flying knee knockout will continue to be played throughout the week as well as his longstanding dislike for Masvidal, fair play to Askren for giving credit where due.