Since leaving amateur wrestling to pursue an MMA career, two-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American Ben Askren has used his wrestling background to win all 10 of his professional fights and become the Bellator welterweight champion.
With a jiu-jitsu brown belt, Askren has become near unbeatable when he is able to take his opponents to the ground. For fans with any background or knowledge in the ground game, it is a pleasure to watch Askren dominate opponents from the top position.
However, in several of Askren's recent performances, fans in attendance have been displeased with the champion's reluctance to keep his fights standing and his inability to finish fights. After his second career title defense at Bellator 64, Askren gave those a piece of his mind.
As fans in Windsor, Ontario, Canada rained down boos during his post-fight interview, Askren coolly responded:
I was told you Canadian fans like fighting. Man, I haven't seen an ass whipping that good in a long time. If you don’t like the ground work, there's a sport they call boxing. That’s not as fun, though. I suggest you keep on coming here and watch my ass whippings.
Not only was Askren right to defend himself on Friday night, but more ground specialists should take a similar stance when disrespected by fans.
For five rounds, Askren put Douglas Lima on his back with ease and laid fists to the Brazilian's face. The former University of Missouri wrestler also expertly escaped submission attempt after submission attempt as if he had been training with a Gi his entire life.
Askren did exactly what he was expected to do as a champion. The welterweight retained his belt by displaying dominance and reminded everyone that he is the best 170-pound fighter competing under the Bellator banner. Then, he was heckled for doing his job.
Even if the fans booing Askren were Lima fans, jeering the wrestler for utilizing his expert ground game is equivalent to a football fan letting their favorite team's opponent hear it for taking a knee with the lead in the final second of the game instead of tossing up a Hail Mary.
Put bluntly, booing a wrestler for using their wrestling in MMA shows a complete lack of knowledge of the sport, especially when that wrestler is working relentlessly from the top position and escaping multiple submission attempts.
It is time for this uneducated section of MMA's fanbase to appreciate all of the sport's most talented fighters. If they can't enjoy watching Askren and other dominant ground fighters work their craft, then, as Bellator's welterweight champion said, they probably would be better served watching boxing or kickboxing.
Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, Follow Sean Smith on Twitter
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