Ultimate Fighting Championship fans in the United States were either forced to get up early or pull an all-nighter, as the promotion staged UFC Fight Night 162 on Saturday -- it started at 5 a.m. ET -- in Kallang, Singapore. Those who sacrificed sleep were rewarded with a grappling dream match between Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia and four-time NCAA All-American wrestler Ben Askren.
After a back-and-forth battle during the first two rounds, Maia executed a sweep and moved to the back of the onetime Olympian. He secured a dominant position, cinched a rear-naked choke and squeezed until Askren lost consciousness.
“I made a really bad decision,” Askren said. “I remember thinking I won the first two rounds, but when I got reversed in the third round, I looked up at the clock and there was over a minute left. I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got to get the reversal to win this round.’ We had obviously trained so much back in camp and I had a really good jiu-jitsu guy, but I guess I was overconfident. I guess there is a reason why he is the best grappler in the division [and] possibly the best in MMA ever. I was fairly confident that when I went for that I would get the reversal, and I didn’t. I failed, and that was the outcome.”
The win was Maia’s 22nd in the UFC, good for second-most on the all-time list. The 41-year-old has rattled off three straight victories and revealed that he had two fights remaining on his current contract. He then hinted that he may lean towards retirement once he fulfills it. However, before Maia hangs up the gloves, he has set his sights on an opponent he has been targeting for years.
“I want to have two more fights; that is my contract,” Maia said. “After that, I have a lot of things to do that I want to do when I retire. Diego Sanchez is somebody that has been calling me out for years. It is like a veteran fight. Maybe if people like, I can do.”
On the other side, Askren owns a disappointing 1-2 record inside the Octagon and has lost two fights in a row after starting his career 19-0 with one no-contest. Prior to moving to the UFC, the Roufusport representative captured titles in Bellator MMA and One Championship.
“I don’t know [when I want to get back in the Octagon],” Askren said. “I’ve got to go home and sit down to talk about it and think about it. I had a really busy year; it was fantastic. Even coming into this fight, obviously I am thinking [about] who I am going to go after next, who am I going to call out. When I looked at the division, I was like, ‘S---, everyone is busy.’ The callout tonight was going to be hard because there is nobody that makes a whole lot of sense right away, so with that being said, I will probably sit and wait for a second and see what happens.”
Askren was part of the first trade in MMA history when the UFC shipped former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to One Championship in exchange for Askren’s services. Technically, the two promotions had released the fighters from their contracts to allow them to sign elsewhere. While it remains too early to rule on which organization benefitted most from the trade, Johnson has gone a perfect 3-0 with One Championship -- a run that includes his winning the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix.