Ace welterweight wrestler Ben Askren (19-1, 6 KOs, 6 SUBs) will meet decorated grappler Demian Maia (27-9, 3 KOs, 13 SUBs) at UFC on ESPN+ 20 on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The card streams live on ESPN+ at 8am ET.
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A grappler’s dream match headlines this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night in Singapore. Ben Askren, a two-time NCAA champion, will test his elite folkstyle wrestling against Demian Maia, a legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu player who has won every major international tournament in the world. That’s a setup that even fans who aren’t into the ground game have to appreciate.
Askren is in an extremely perilous position. For a long time, he was widely regarded as the best fighter outside the UFC, and he soon thrust himself into the spotlight after Dana White finally gave in and brought him to the big show. His first fight against Robbie Lawler was inconclusive, as he was nearly decapitiated and many thought he was bailed out by a controversial submission stoppage. Then, he was matched up with Jorge Masvidal and suffered the quickest knockout in UFC history. It wasn’t just the first loss of his career - this was pure humiliation as Masvidal rubbed it in at every opportunity. Askren talking all sorts of trash beforehand didn’t help.
Now, the popular Askren finds himself facing one of the division’s best gatekeepers. Maia might be past his prime, but he’s certainly useful in separating the men from the boys at 170. The Brazilian suffered three straight lopsided losses to Woodley, Covington and Usman (all title-worthy fighters), but proved he still has a lot left to offer with back-to-back wins over Lyman Good and Anthony Martin. While no longer a title contender, beating Askren would be a milestone in a career filled with them.
- Demian Maia -180
- Ben Askren +143
- Fight goes/doesn’t go to decision: -170 / +130
Significant Striking Stats
- Strikes landed per minute: Maia 1.71 / Askren 0
- Striking accuracy: Maia 42% / Askren -
- Strikes absorbed per minute: Maia 1.92 / Askren 8.49
- Striking defense: Maia 64% / Askren 9%
- Takedown average: Maia 2.56 / Askren 4.39
- Takedown accuracy: Maia 25% / Askren 50%
- Takedown defense: Maia 65% / Askren -
- Submission average: Maia 1.03 / Askren 4.39
There is the very real possibility that the grappling of both men cancel each other out and we’re forced to watch two terrible strikers paw at each other for 25 minutes. Considering how uncomfortable both are in the standup, it’s far more likely that they’ll each keep grinding until somebody finds superiority on the ground.
Both men are hardwired to shoot for takedowns. In Maia’s three most recent losses, he relentlessly (and predictably) shot for single legs even when it was clear that he couldn’t take any of his opponents down. To be fair, that only happened when his opponents were elite wrestlers - which Askren is. However, Askren can be predictable as well: Masvidal was able to take advantage of the fact that Funky instinctively ducks his head to change levels in almost every striking exchange.
The other factor to think about is where these fighters are in regards to their respective primes. Maia is 41 years old, though his style has allowed him to age gracefully and stay competitive against much younger fighters. Askren is 35 but spent his childhood and teen years in a notoriously taxing sport. Still, Askren is the fresher fighter, and is the faster fighter here. Maia has a slight size advantage as a former middleweight.
UFC Odds Pick: Askren to win at -180
Maia only loses to wrestlers who can stifle his grappling - he looks completly lost when he’s not able to attach himself to his opponent. Askren has never really been taken down, and it’s doubtful that a BJJ guy is the first one to do it.