12up Logo12up Logo

UFC's Ben Askren Abruptly Retires From Mixed Martial Arts Due to Injury

SINGAPORE - MAY 26:  Ben Askren of United States celebrates after defeating  Agilan Thani of Malaysia in the welterweight world championship bout during the One Championship Dynasty of Heroes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 26, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
One Championship: Dynasty of Heroes | Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

The sports world was floored by the news of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's dislocated hip this weekend. But ultimately, his hip injury isn't as consequential as the one facing MMA athlete Ben Askren.

The UFC welterweight contender announced on Ariel Helwani's ESPN show that he needs hip replacement surgery and will be retiring from mixed martial arts.

Askren, who turned 35 in July, arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship after following up a brilliant 9-0 run in Bellator with a 7-0 mark in Asia's ONE Championship. His switch to UFC was a strange one -- he was essentially "traded" straight-up for former flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson -- but he was successful in his debut, defeating the legendary Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 by submission.

Unfortunately, his two subsquent fights were unmitigated disasters, beginning with July's record-breaking flying knee stunner courtesy of Jorge Masvidal.

The end of the line came with a third-round submission defeat to Demian Maia in October in a bout that earned Fight of the Night honors.

Askren shouldn't hang his head, though. He really shouldn't. He made headlines for the wrong reasons in the second half of this year, but making the Olympics in freestyle wrestling and starting your pro MMA career 19-0 justly earns you praise. The two men to defeat him are bona fide folk heroes of the 170-pound division, and he still departs as one of the most skiller grapplers in the sport. To see him going out in earnest spirits is good news indeed.

Take a bow, Funky Ben. You made your mark at every level of the fight game and have earned the right to enjoy your retirement.