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WHAT IF? Masvidal never landed the knee

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In this latest series, I will be taking a look at some of the biggest WHAT IF? moments in MMA history, every now and then a moment will happen with such great impact on the sport that as fans we ask ourselves WHAT IF? would they have gone on to be a champ or been cut, so I am going to do my best to look at some of these moments and give my views on those situations.


On the 6th of July 2019 at UFC 239, UFC fans witnessed perhaps the most talked about KO in history. It was between the undefeated (19-0) Ben Askren, and a rejuvenated Jorge Masvidal. of course, everybody by now should be familiar with what happened next a nonchalant Masvidal, with his hands behind his back explodes from his side of the cage and lands a huge flying knee followed up by a barrage of hits winning the fight with just 5 seconds on the clock, but WHAT IF?

If Askren had actually secured the takedown he appeared to be attempting and got Masvidal to the ground, one must believe we would have seen the same result. We have seen all of Askren’s career a dominant wrestle-driven performance, sapping the energy from his opponent, resulting in a ground and pound finish or a convincing UD victory.


Now hear me out here, even if Masvidal had lost the fight he would still be a BMF. However in the context of the Nate Diaz call out, and the title is created with all the hype it brought, I don’t believe it would have happened, after the resurrection as it has been labeled by Masvidal, where he went from getting a KO over Till, and then the 5-second baptism against Askren, Dana White saw the emergence of a star, and with at the time no McGregor on the scene, Dana capitalized on the moment and ran with it.

Of course, this would mean Masvidal wouldn’t have gone on and dominated Diaz and become the BMF Champion, and then, of course, the title fight against Usman. Although Masvidal lost his short-notice fight against Usman he still managed to keep his respect and in many ways his momentum, an opportunity that would not have presented itself if Masvidal had lost to Askren.

UFC Champion?

So we have already discussed the likely hood that the BMF title would not have been, now its time to look at the rise of former Bellator and ONE Champion Ben Askren, wins over the durable Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal would have allowed Askren’ stock to rise even further, don’t forget prior to his trade to UFC Askren had beat the biggest names and threats in his respective division in both ONE and Bellator and he sat (18-0). In his first fight in UFC, he could have taken a warm-up against a guy outside of top 15, but instead, he took on fan favorite and a tough durable dangerous opponent in Robbie Lawler, I’m not going to dispute the result of the fight it was awarded to Askren and he moved to (19-0), many had believed his next fight would be against ‘Marty’ Usman, a fight that Askren had been working on from pretty much day 1 in the UFC, at any opportunity he had Askren would get under Usman’s skin by calling him ‘Marty’.

So for argument sake Askren beat Masvidal and had gone (20-0), Usman, of course, went on to dominate Askren teammate Woodley and win the Championship, this would have led to an interesting championship fight between Usman and Askren. Undoubtedly Askren was inside the head of Usman, could you imagine the press conferences, the media days, the entertainment would have been off the chart, on paper Askren’ had the more impressive wrestling background, and at this time prior to Usman vs Colby people was still questioning the stand-up ability of Usman, that has since been answered, we could have very well seen Ben Askren go one to become UFC Champion.

The Wrap Up

So we have had some fun, looking at the potential WHAT IF? between Masvidal and Askren, how things could have been, as Masvidal loss would have likely led him down the path to a Donald Cerrone-esque career, whereas an Askren win would have seen him as UFC, ONE and Bellator Champion and likely retiring (21-0), instead, of course, we got Masvidal winning the BMF title against Diaz and going on to a respectable short-notice loss to Usman, and Askren losing to Maia before retiring with a UFC record of (1-2).

I hope you enjoyed going through the possible scenarios of WHAT IF? comment below with your thoughts on this I’d love to hear them and join me next time for the next episode of WHAT IF?

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James Rees is host of ReesTalks Podcast and a Football, F1 and MMA writer, who strives to bring you the best content aswel as bringing you interviews with some of the sports top stars.