- High-level grapplers Demian Maia and Ben Askren headline UFC Fight Night 162
- Can Maia continue on his winning streak against his first ranked opponent in more than 17 months?
- Askren is favored to bounce back from his 5-second KO loss to Jorge Masvidal
On Saturday (Oct. 26), the UFC heads to Singapore for the first time in over a year for UFC Fight Night 162. In the main event, former two-division UFC title challenger Demian Maia looks to win his third consecutive fight in the welterweight division when he faces ex-Bellator and ONE Championship champion Ben Askren.
Askren is coming off the first loss of his MMA career. Jorge Masvidal knocked out Askren in a UFC record five seconds in July. Before that loss, Askren was unbeaten in 20 pro fights.
Maia enters the bout as the No. 10-ranked welterweight in the official UFC rankings, Askren comes in at No. 11. But it’s the lower-ranked fighter who is a sizable favorite.
MAIA VS ASKREN ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (as of Aug. 13)|
UFC Fight Night 162 takes place at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. The main card streams on ESPN+ at 8:00 AM ET following prelims on ESPN at 5:00 AM ET.
Askren joined the UFC in late 2018 via a trade with ONE Championship. The UFC sent Demetrious Johnson to ONE, in return.
In his first fight with his new promotion, Askren earned a controversial submission win over ex-welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. That victory moved Askren into the top-five in the rankings. He took a big tumble down those rankings when Masvidal knocked him out.
Maia was on a seven-fight winning streak when he faced Tyron Woodley in 2017 for the welterweight belt. Woodley defeated Maia by decision.
Maia then dropped his next two fights by decision as well, losing to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. Covington would go on to win the interim welterweight title. Usman is the current welterweight champ. Maia’s two most-recent bouts, both wins, have come against unranked opponents.
Maia has long been one of the best specialists in MMA. His goal is to get the fight to the mat and calmly work himself into a position to earn a submission. Maia is patient, tactical and relentless in his pursuit of the finish. He has scored 10 submission wins in the UFC, which ties him with Royce Gracie for third-most submission victories with the promotion. Maia’s 26 submission attempts are the fifth most in UFC history.
There was a time when Maia was working on rounding out his MMA game by concentrating on his striking skills, but those days seem to be over as he has gone back to focusing on his jiu-jitsu as of late.
There was a time when Maia was working on rounding out his MMA game by concentrating on his striking skills, but those days seem to be over …
Askren has always been looked at as one of the best wrestlers in MMA. He rarely throws strikes on the feet. Askren wants to get the fight to the mat and use a heavy top game to work for a submission or a knockout via ground strikes. He showed that he can work through adversity in the Lawler matchup. It looked like the ex-UFC champ was going to finish Askren with ground strikes, but Askren rode out the storm to earn the submission win in that matchup. Askren’s background in wrestling gives him excellent takedown defense skills.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|Demian Maia||Category||Ben Askren|
|1.71||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||0.00|
|1.92||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||8.49|
|2.58||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||4.39|
|1.03||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||4.39|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
It’s hard to see Maia getting another title shot, but crazier things have happened in this sport. The big thing for Maia in this matchup is to show that he still belongs among the top-10 fighters in the 170-pound division. If he can submit Askren, it will earn him another fight against a ranked opponent.
As for Askren, it’s hard to tell how the knockout loss to Masvidal affected his standing with fans and the UFC. The fact that he landed a main event bout after the loss shows the UFC still believes in him, but if he loses to Maia, that belief may start to fade, especially since Askren has long been an antagonist of UFC President Dana White. This is a massive fight for Askren.
It will not be a surprise to see Maia revert to his striking in this matchup. During his run against Woodley, Covington and Usman, all high-level wrestlers, Maia went 0-for-49 in takedown attempts. Askren’s takedown defense is as good or better than those three fighters. When you add in the fact that Askren has never been submitted in MMA competition, the prospects look even bleaker for Maia on the ground. If Maia does decide to keep the fight standing, he’ll need to work from distance to avoid the takedowns of his opponent.
Askren does not set up his takedowns with striking. He doesn’t seem interested in wasting his time with stand-up fighting. I expect him to be aggressive in working for takedowns and taking top position. However, the loss to Masvidal showed that he can’t be so focused on the takedown that he leaves himself open for an unexpected offensive attack from his opponent.
Pick: Askren (-185)