Ben Askren (@1.4) vs Demian Maia (@2.87)
26-10-2019

Our Prediction:

Ben Askren will win

Ben Askren – Demian Maia Match Prediction | 26-10-2019

For Askren, a big part of his appeal is his undefeated record and trash talk, but a loss ruins the former and makes the latter less interesting. Masvidal is in an even more perilous position, as he only just recently returned to the win column a loss could push him out of title contention entirely. With so much to gain on the line, there are obvious consequences with defeat.

While hes strong in the pocket (stronger than most welterweights), Masvidal isnt a defined pocket boxer; instead, the gamebred Floridian has gotten by on a deep striking toolbox in every range, as well as a great deal of cleverness and versatility. While Askren found a way to make it work (to an extent) against Robbie Lawler, Masvidal is a more elusive challenge; while Lawlers pocket-boxing and sprawl werent favorable conditions for Askren, they did give him opportunities to make contact and build from there, where Masvidal doesnt play the same game.

Fresh off a brutal knockout win over Darren Till, upsetting Askren would serve as a perfect catapult into title contention for the South Florida native. Its hard to make heads-or-tails of Askrens Octagon debut. Though it will technically go down as a win, this is really another chance at a first impression. Masvidal, meanwhile, has been a top-level fighter years and years now, but Gamebred has yet to capture a world title. On one hand, the Olympian did showcase serious grit and grappling to rally, but he was also dumped on his face and essentially knocked out in the opening minute.

At that point, Masvidal should first be looking to shred the calf or shoot a snap kick into the belly damaging strikes that are difficult to catch. If Masvidal can avoid a few of the early shots, Askren will likely hang back and look to time his shot better. The more jabs, low kicks, and body shots that Masvidal lands, the slower and less effective the next shot of Askren will be.

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Since that fight, Masvidal has gone 1-2, but is still in position for a title shot with one more win; while the losses to Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson were serious setbacks, his excellent win over Darren Till (combined with Maia and Thompson taking a few losses that knocked them out of contention) placed Masvidal right back into the conversation. If Masvidal can decisively defeat Ben Askren, a title shot is likely forthcoming. Jorge Masvidal has long been known as one of the more technically sound boxers at welterweight (and lightweight, when he was there), but he only broke through to the top echelon in 2017 with his beating of then-#5 Donald Cerrone.

He just comes out in every fight and puts his head straight down. And a guy like Demian Maia, that guy is literally the human python. So if you put your head down like that, youre definitely gonna get choked out. So, hes predictable.

Ben Askren is about as one-dimensional a fighter that has ever existed in MMA, and while that can be framed as a compliment (after all, the best fighters in the world tend to be specialists), his lack of tools to bring fights into his preferred area have troubled him even against sub-UFC level competition at times. Askrens edge in grappling (as a standout folkstyle wrestler out of the University of Missouri) has been evident over many of his opponents, as hes often able to make use of his sound chain-wrestling and top game to dictate the action and control them the whole way; however, everything about his skillset until he makes contact is barely functional.

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Askrens lack of striking aptitude means that he doesnt have a sound entry game; he cant shoot reactively or set his shot up with his striking, which means that he often just has to look to make contact (even in the form of a sprawled shot or a messy clinch entry) and chain from there. That it has brought him to 19-0 speaks to the unique strength of his strongest areas (in addition to insane toughness, which largely won him the Lawler fight), but also of the lack of strong anti-wrestlers or outfighters in his CV. Askrens initial shot isnt particularly strong or fast, and Luis Sapo Santos was able to hold it off by just being a much better athlete; combined with a lack of pressuring aptitude, Askrens chain-wrestling (and by extension, his top game) isnt set up to be particularly successful by the rest of his arsenal.

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If Covington defeats Lawler, he should finally receive his long-awaited title shot it makes sense and is the biggest fight available. Askren has been talking nonstop about a title shot since his pal Woodley lost the strap, and defeating Masvidal would be a solid enough feather in his cap to justify the opportunity. Masvidal is fresh off a massive win himself, so a second big victory could see him earn a title shot, too. If he loses, though?

Masvidals also a very good kicker; Masvidal was able to deal with an extended distance against Till with his round-kicking, and keeps a light lead leg to push into range behind teeps and feints (as he did against Cerrone). If theres a large weakness in Masvidals game, its often just lack of urgency; hes lost a few split decisions due to coasting late in the fight when he thinks he has a lead. Whats more important in his fight against Askren than the details of his striking is his historically-strong wrestling and grappling defense; Masvidal has always proven difficult to take down with the initial shot, and even when Maia was able to fight through the sprawl with his crafty half-guard work, he had a tough time getting the rear-naked choke.