Ben Askren Doesn’t See Conor McGregor as an Elite Fighter: ‘He Needs to Prove That to Us Again’

Askren is not convinced that the Irishman will take the necessary steps to climb back to the top of the UFC.

Conor McGregor
Courtesy of @thenotoriousmma on Instagram

Ben Askren believes Conor McGregor needs to once again prove himself as an elite-level fighter after years of inactivity and lackluster results.

McGregor has been dominating the headlines after going on multiple Twitter rants in conjunction with his recent return to television as part of The Ultimate Fighter’s 31st season which premiered on Tuesday evening. Not to mention the release of his critically-acclaimed Netflix documentary, McGregor Forever. These days, McGregor is practically everywhere except where it matters the most; inside the Octagon. 

Appearing on the latest episode of ‘Funky and the Champ‘ with Daniel Cormier, former Bellator and ONE world champion Ben Askren suggested that Conor McGregor’s inactivity matched with his lack of wins over the last several years has stripped the Irishman of his status as an elite fighter despite his constant presence looming over the sport. ‘Funky’ believes that if McGregor wants to continue to be treated like the best of the best, he needs to strap on the four-ounce gloves and prove his worth once again. 

“When was the last time you seen a training video of Conor McGregor? Every video I see, he’s party, he’s dancing, he’s drinking. I don’t know. Is this guy taking it seriously anymore? And listen, he’s rich. He can do whatever he wants apparently, but we also don’t have to consider him a really elite fighter. He needs to prove that to us again,” Askren said.

“I am not under the belief that Conor McGregor is ever going to fight regularly. I just saw he came out saying, ‘I’m gonna fight three or four times in the next year.’ That ain’t gonna happen. C’mon, man. He’s fought four times in six years. Why would he fight three or four times in one year? That’s crazy talk and I’m not even convinced he’s fighting Michael Chandler.”

Despite the Lack of Recent Success, Ben Askren Believes Conor McGregor Could Stumble into a Title Fight with a Win over Michael Chandler

Conor McGregor is tentatively tipped for a scrap with Michael Chandler toward the end of 2023, once their tenure on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter is in the books. Many fans and fighters were skeptical as to whether the fight would actually happen considering the Irishman’s hesitancy to jump back into the USADA testing pool. However, McGregor recently revealed that he had submitted paperwork to rejoin the pool immediately for a required six months of screening.

“That would be step number one. I don’t think he’s actually submitted a sample so yeah,” Askren continued. “Maybe I’m being a hater here. Maybe I’m being a skeptic, but I want to see him fight someone. He’s 1-3 in his last four. That is over the last six years. He has the one win against Donald Cerrone. He just hasn’t been active at all. We’ve seen almost none of… We haven’t seen him since July of 2021. That was almost two years ago.”

In defense of McGregor, his layoff since July 2021 was largely due to a leg break he suffered in the first round of his trilogy bout with Dustin Poirier. Of course, McGregor has been fully healed for some time and likely could have returned to the Octagon already if it were the priority he regularly claims it to be.

Instead of getting back into the Octagon as quickly as possible, McGregor has been more focused on calling out practically every fighter on the roster. Names from one end of the spectrum to the other have all faced the wrath of McGregor’s tweet-and-delete tirades, including veteran Matt Brown, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, and UFC 291 headliners Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

For most fighters, picking fights online is not generally enough to earn a UFC title opportunity. However, that might not necessarily be the case for someone like McGregor.

“I think Conor in his delusions of grandeur probably still sees himself at the top of the heap and probably still sees himself getting another belt,” Askren continued. “And there’s a chance because… Here’s the thing about Michael Chandler, and I love Michael Chandler. He was my college teammate, but every Michael Chandler fight is almost a coin flip. There’s a chance he’s going to kill this dude.

“There’s a chance he’ll just go boom and put him down. But then he’s going to try some crazy sh*t and there’s a chance he might get put down. So it’s like, McGregor hits hard. I don’t know. I want Michael to win, but it could go either way and if it goes either way, it’s a huge fight. They might throw him in for a title [fight]. Who knows.”

Published on June 1, 2023 at 3:34 pm
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