Ben Askren Denies His 1st-Round TKO Loss to Jake Paul Was Rigged

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, UFC fighter Ben Askren waits for the start of a middleweight mixed martial arts bout between David Branch and Jared Cannonier at UFC 230, in New York. Askren is finally making his UFC debut after a decade in mixed martial arts and a lifetime of wrestling. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Ben Askren denied taking a dive against Jake Paul in Saturday's first-round TKO.

Askren told ESPN's Ariel Helwani on Monday he stood to gain little from purposefully letting Paul win.

"I think in fact I would lose a lot," he said. "That's not something that would ever cross my mind."

While an experienced combat sports athlete, boxing wasn't Askren's area of expertise. Earlier in the interview with Helwani, the 36-year-old explained how he deployed a looser guard against Paul because that was what he was used to doing in the cage.

"I wanted people to throw overhand rights because that's generally the easiest punch to get a takedown off of," he said.

That proved to be disastrous against Paul, who Askren acknowledged has a "good overhand right."

In general, the veteran fighter can laugh his way to the bank despite the result. He was already assured of a $500,000 payout, and his earnings will continue to climb if he gets a cut of the pay-per-view revenue. MMA Fighting's Damon Martin reported the event is estimated to have collected between 1.2 million and 1.6 million buys.