Demian Maia gets his hand raised after beating Ben Askren at UFC Fight Night 162 (Photo/UFC Facebook)
Ben Askren -- two-time NCAA champ for University of Missouri and 2008 Olympic wrestler -- suffered only his second loss of his decade-long professional MMA career when he was choked by Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Demian Maia in their main event bout at UFC Fight Night 162 in Kallang, Singapore Saturday.
In the third round, Maia seized full mount position and turned it into back control, applying a rear-naked choke on Askren, who tapped out at 3:54 of the round.
"It was a shockingly efficient finish against a high-level wrestler such as Askren, who lost his second straight after going unbeaten in his first 20 career fights," is how ESPN.com described the conclusion of the Maia-Askren welterweight (170-pound) bout.
"The early rounds saw Maia executing well in striking and tagging Askren with some good shots," according to MMAJunkie.com. "Askren started to find a home for his takedowns as the bout wore on, and every time the action hit the ground the fighters produced exciting back-and-forth grappling exchanges."
ESPN.com added some additional detail, reporting, "The first two rounds were contested mostly with both fighters on their feet, showing stiff, awkward standup skills one might expect from grappling specialists ..."
"But Maia started coming on as Round 2 wore on. When Askren took him to the canvas with under two minutes to go in the round, the Brazilian quickly reversed position and threatened a submission."
Sherdog.com offered its perspective on the end of the bout:
"In the third round, Askren again took Maia down, and Maia once again swept quickly, this time with a heel hook attempt. Askren would not escape this time, as Maia took three-quarter mount, inducing Askren to give up his back. From there, it was academic, as Maia cinched up a rear-naked choke that forced Askren to tap out -- and appear to go to sleep briefly -- at 3:54 of Round 3."
Ben AskrenAfter the match, Askren offered this self-analysis.
"We had obviously trained so much back in camp; I had a really good jiu-jitsu guy," said the four-time NCAA finalist and two-time champ for the Mizzou Tigers in 2006 and 2007. "I guess I was overconfident. I guess there's a reason why he's the best grappler in the division, possibly in MMA ever. I was fairly confident that I was gonna get the reversal, but I didn't, and I failed, and obviously that was the outcome."
"(The fight went) kind of as we planned," Askren said. "A couple of positions I would've liked to have get, like a muay Thai clinch more, but he was able to stay out of that. But I was landing the punches I wanted to land. I was landing my uppercut really well. And then I was getting takedowns. I think I ended up with four or five takedowns. And then I made a really bad decision."
When asked, "what's next?" Askren responded, "I don't know. I've got to go home and sit down and talk about it and think about it. Obviously had a real busy year. It was fantastic. Even coming into this fight I'm thinking, 'What's next? Who am I going to call out?' When I lost -- everyone in the division is busy. A callout would be hard. There's no one that makes a whole lot of sense right away. With that being said, I'll probably wait and sit for a second and see what happens."
With the loss, the 35-year-old Askren -- a former Bellator and ONE champion -- is now 19-2, 1 NC overall, and 1-2 since coming on board at UFC with a controversial submission over Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 in Las Vegas back in March ... while Maia, 41, is now 28-9 in his MMA career stretching back to 2001, with a total of 14 submissions and three consecutive victories.