It’s International Fight Week and we are just days away from Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren getting locked in a cage together. This is a fight that can end any number of ways but is sure to entertain regardless.
For years now, International Fight Week has played host to the biggest bouts in UFC history. The Fourth of July weekend card always has that big event feel, and UFC 239 is no exception. The main event fight features arguably the best fighter this sport has ever seen in Jon Jones, taking on the one who rightfully earned the next crack at the king in Thiago Santos. The co-main event features two of the greatest female MMA fighters we’ve ever seen, Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm. Yet it’s arguable that it’s the third fight on the main card leading the pack in terms of the amount of intrigue from the MMA fanbase.
It’s been a long time coming, but this Saturday the grudge between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal is due to be settled. In this day in age of the entertainment era in the sport, it is not uncommon for some level of animosity to exist between competitors, whether it’s genuine or manufactured. Perhaps on Askren’s side of things, the stones being thrown at Masvidal don’t come from a place of true resentment or disdain for his foe, but rather in the best interest of generating interest in the upcoming contest.
Those feelings and ways of approaching a fight probably don’t exist in Masvidal’s world, he is coming into this fight with major anger and hostility towards Askern. It’s less about the promoting of a fight and more about putting a beating on an individual he is harboring a great deal of resentment for. It’s personal in Masvidal eye’s, and this reality will bode well for him when it comes time to step into the cage with Askren.
It’s not that Askren got lucky in his last fight in terms of the outcome, controversial or not, he earned the win. He also put his immense toughness on a display, but it’s fair to believe that the way in which things ended, he dodged a bullet. Things were very close to turning out completely different, for the worse. Askren showed he has the ability to overcome adversity and prevail, the toughness and drive that took him to the unlikely victory garnered a lot of attention, and for good reason.
Masvidal is one of those fighters who’s persona overshadows how skilled he is as a mixed martial artist, he possesses a blend of street toughness and the skills of an elite mixed martial artist that is rare to see at this level of the sport. Couple that with the fact that he is exceptionally experienced not only in the sport of MMA, but in performing under the brightest lights in the game, and its a recipe for success for the American Top Team stand out.
Askren most certainly has the advantage in the grappling department, he has proven toughness and tenacity, and world-class wrestling. The level of competition he has faced in his MMA career has been debated, but he was relatively flawless throughout his pre-UFC run.
The Vegas odd’s may be slightly in Askren’s favor based on the stylistic match-up, but Masvidal will learn from Askren’s last opponent’s mistakes and control his emotions enough to pick his shots and be a little more conservative with his aggression. His experience against the highest level of competition is going to arm him with the mindset needed to best an exceptional fighter like Askren.
Prediction: Masvidal via second-round KO/TKO
UFC International Fight Week 2019 takes place the week of July 3-7 in Las Vegas, NV and plays host to UFC 239 which takes place on Saturday, July 6, 2019, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.