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Askren announces retirement from MMA, citing need for hip surgery

Ben Askren before his match against Jordan Burroughs at Beat the Streets (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Ben Askren, two-time NCAA wrestling champ for University of Missouri and U.S. freestyle wrestler at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, announced his plans to retire Monday after a decade in MMA ... and less than one year in UFC.

"I'm retiring from the sport of MMA," Askren said on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on ESPN Monday. "Frankly, I'm retiring from everything."

"I've been having hip problems, and I finally had the discussion with my doctor ... and I need a [left] hip replacement," Askren said. "So, man, that's it for me. I've been thinking about this for a week and what I was going to say, and I'm filled with gratitude for how great of a career I've been able to have, even though obviously in the end it did not turn out to go my way."

The 35-year-old Askren added that he had been dealing with hip issues for the past "3-5 years-ish."

"I got really emotional the other day because I started thinking about all the great experiences I've had, and how lucky I've been to have the amount of success I've had," Askren added.

The UFC acquired Askren as part of an unprecedented trade with ONE Championship in October 2018, essentially swapping former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to Asia's ONE promotion in exchange for Askren. As ESPN described last fall's transaction in its Monday story about Askren's retirement announcement, "It wasn't a traditional trade like what would be common in team sports. The UFC agreed to release Johnson, who came to his own new deal with ONE. ONE did the same with Askren, who signed with the UFC."

"Prior to the trade, Askren had retired from ONE after a 57-second TKO win over Shinya Aoki on Nov. 24, 2017."

Askren launched his MMA career in 2009 with the Headhunter Productions promotion in Missouri. After going 3-0 in regional competition, Askren signed with Bellator to compete in that organization's second-ever welterweight tournament.

Askren won the tournament, and Bellator welterweight title, after defeating Lyman Good at Bellator 33 in 2010. Askren defended his title four times in Bellator before signing for ONE FC in 2014, having signed with that organization after initially being rejected by UFC.

Prior to entering MMA, Askren had made a name for himself in amateur wrestling. In high school, he was a two-time Wisconsin state champion. He then headed south to the University of Missouri, where he was a four-time NCAA Division I All-American between 2004 and 2007, earning back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. Askren was also a three-time Big 12 conference champion, and a two-time recipient of the Dan Hodge Trophy from WIN Magazine as college wrestler of the year, as well as InterMat Wrestler of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

Upon concluding his collegiate mat career, Askren earned a place on the U.S. men's freestyle wrestling team at the 2008 Olympics. While he did not medal at the Beijing Games, Askren did earn a gold medals at the 2005 Pan American Championships, as well as at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Ben Askren concludes his pro MMA career with a 19-2 record, with 1 No Contest.

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