Ben Askren secured his fourth Bellator welterweight title defense against Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 97 via fourth-round technical knockout.
For those of you gasping at the notion of Askren earning a stoppage, breathe easy. The finish was hardly sensational or vicious—it was nothing but a display of mercy on the part of referee Jason Herzog.
As expected, the champion overwhelmed Koreshkov with a smothering top game and seamless ground transitions, leaving his opponent beaten, battered and humiliated.
Askren's grappling superiority was evident, but Koreshkov's performance was embarrassing. The Russian looked like a white belt on day one of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practice, and he showed signs of exhaustion, confusion and defeat after just five minutes of action. He was a grappling dummy with only slightly more animation.
To put Koreshkov's resistance in perspective, know this: Askren took liberty to start a "USA!" chant...mid fight. Koreshkov did nothing.
For three rounds, Askren peppered away at Koreshkov with baby punches that bordered on slaps at times, evoking images of mothers scolding five-year-old children in the process. Moving from side control, the mount, to back mount, to wherever else he wanted to go, Askren flat out toyed with Koreshkov.
In the opening moments of Round 4, however, Koreshkov successfully defended a takedown attempt for approximately three seconds—the most success he enjoyed at any point during the fight. Askren quickly shrugged off this sprawl, secured a double and went back to work, and the end was palpable.
Begging the referee to stop the fight from full mount, Askren unleashed punch after unanswered punch, forcing Koreshkov to give up his back. From there, Askren continued to administer some relatively weak ground-and-pound, and the referee had no choice but to put this fight to bed.
Askren's finish was not pretty and it was not highlight-reel material, but it effectively capped off an absolute beatdown. While the referee officially stopped this fight in Round 4, the story was written as soon as Askren secured his first takedown.
The win officially stands as another Bellator title defense for Askren, but more importantly, Askren raised the eyebrows of fans and critics alike, causing them to ask the same question: How would this guy do in the UFC?
With his wrestling pedigree and ever-evolving ground game, Askren is a scary prospect, and one has to think he could compete favorably at any level, even in one of the deepest divisions of the world's premier fight organization.
Until he steps into the Octagon, however, we can never know for sure. In the meantime, the curly-headed ground phenom will toil away, obliterating challenger after challenger with an unashamedly one-dimensional attack.
What a waste.
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