Chael Sonnen admits that Ben Askren’s decision to hang up his gloves for good surprised him.
Askren went into the UFC with a ton of hype. “Funky” had captured Bellator and ONE Championship gold. While Askren initially retired, he ended up signing with the UFC via a trade with ONE for Demetrious Johnson. Askren went 1-2 under the UFC banner. He submitted Robbie Lawler and was stopped by Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia. During a recent appearance on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Askren said he’s done for good now.
In a new video posted on his YouTube channel, Sonnen discussed Askren’s retirement.
“Ben Askren’s retirement caught me off guard,” Sonnen said. “I mean I guess my first reaction is Ben, congratulations. Thank you for the great memories. It did surprise me though.”
Sonnen went on to say he wasn’t expecting Askren to reveal that he needs hip replacement surgery.
“It surprised me that he retired for that reason only because he had been talking recently, even after the Maia fight, about, ‘look I’m gonna have to take some time to see if I even wanna do this anymore,’” Sonnen continued when speaking on Ben Askren’s MMA exit. “So I had no idea he had this hip bothering him. And when he announced his retirement, Ben is such a competitor and he wanted to be the world champion. And he did it over at [Bellator] and he did it at ONE FC. Then he wants the big unification match. Just grab all the belts. But a selfish guy will. This champ-champ thing is a very real phenomenon going around. I have nothing against it, grab as much hardware as you possibly can. So I thought if Ben was going to retire and when I read the headline that he had retired on Ariel’s show, I assumed it was just from a competitive standpoint of, ‘the road to the championship is not as clear and laid out for me.’”
Were you surprised by Ben Askren’s retirement announcement?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/19/2019.