It’s still incredible that the words "Ben Askren," "Jake Paul" and "boxing match" have managed to merge together. For MMA fans, it’s painful to see. For boxing fans, it’s painful to see. It’s questionable if there are any winners from this apart from Askren, Paul and Triller.
The exhibition event will take place on Saturday, April 17th inside the 79,000 seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Live streamed on Triller in the US, the event will cost viewers $49.99. Triller might need to channel their inner-Dana White when it comes to condoning illegal streams as nearly $50 is a hefty price tag.
This time two years ago, Ben Askren had just won his UFC debut to move to a 19-0 overall record. Subsequent defeats to Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia led to the wrestler’s retirement. Meanwhile, Jake Paul has become one of the most successful YouTubers in the world.
Having gained over 20 million subscribers on the popular platform, Paul turned to boxing. After two professional wins over fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib and former basketball player Nate Robinson, Paul appears to be serious about his venture into the sport.
With that said, here are three key things Ben Askren has to do in order to beat Jake Paul.
#1 Clinch Jake Paul as much as possible
Ben Askren is not a striker. It didn’t take his spinning backfist against Demian Maia to show us that. Although logic tells us Jake Paul isn’t either, he can’t be underestimated. To knock someone out in the way he did Nate Robinson, you have to have power. Couple that with sessions with Jorge Masvidal, Paul can’t be underestimated.
If Askren is to beat Jake Paul, he has to stick to what he’s good at. He has to incorporate as many elements of his grappling knowledge and experience as he can. That may be easier said than done in boxing, but there are strategies Askren can use.
One thing that links boxing and MMA is clinching. Over his career, Askren has shown he's one of the best at it. In boxing, it's usually used as a defense against an opponent's shots. Boxers often use the technique to lean into or onto their opposition.
Askren has to use the clinch to tire Paul. By leaning on the chest of the 24 year old, he'll look to leave as much of his weight as he can on the shoulders or back of Paul's neck. In doing so, Askren will need to make Paul carry his weight while clinching. Forcing the YouTuber to use his energy unnecessarily will be an important component for the former ONE welterweight champion.
#2 Take the fight into the later rounds
This is absolutely key for Ben Askren. If he is to put a stop to Jake Paul’s venture into boxing, he must drag the fight into deep waters. It’s conceivable he’ll have to take the fight through all eight rounds if he is to pick up the underdog win.
If Jake Paul is anything, he’s explosive. We’ve seen that in his first two professional boxing fights. He bursts out of the gate fast and looks for a finish early. Both times he’s been successful in that regard. It stands to reason he’ll look to do the same against Askren. Paul does not lack confidence. He said this about knocking out Ben Askren:
“I started boxing two years ago and I’m still going to knock his ass out faster than [Jorge] Masvidal,” he said. “These MMA guys think because they throw punches they know how to box. The world complained because I knocked out a basketball player and not a real fighter. So now I’m giving the people what they want by taking on a ‘real fighter.’ After Ben Askren is added to my knockout meme collection, what can anybody say?”
Anything beyond the second round is unknown to Jake Paul. Askren has to exploit that. Across his 21 MMA fights, Askren has gone the full five rounds on four occasions. Along with a vastly greater amount of experience and cage time, Askren’s chances seriously increase should he drag a tired Paul into the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds.
#3 Protect his chin
It’s safe to say getting knocked out is the biggest threat to Askren. It’s unfortunate that one KO loss across his whole career could follow him around as much as it does, but the way in which Masvidal accomplished it can’t be forgotten. The question is, can Jake Paul do the same? You’d think not.
Given his record and the way in which he recovered against Robbie Lawler in his UFC debut (Lawler landed some bombs), Askren’s chin is underrated. Recency bias is a tough part of the sport and it’s something Askren has had to deal with.
Nevertheless, Askren will know he’s in a good place to win should the fight go the full eight rounds. He just needs to avoid a KO shot. Protecting his chin and not underestimating Jake Paul will go hand in hand for this fight.
Although it's difficult to praise Jake Paul and bring up his knockout ability given who he's faced so far, we can't ignore what he did against Nate Robinson. Both men came from backgrounds away from boxing with the same chance to train for that fight. It was Paul, the non-sportsman, who brutally knocked Robinson out.
Ultimately, being able to do that takes power and incredible accuracy. To say that he can't do the same to Askren would be foolish. It's vital that the former Bellator welterweight champion doesn't hang his chin and avoids Jake Paul's big shots.