Ben Askren’s next opponent wasn’t able to make it to the UFC’s seasonal press conference. But, thankfully, finding ways to interact with peers doesn’t seem to be a problem for the welterweight.
In Askren’s defense, he didn’t start it this time. Rather, it was a reporter, who asked Lee about the idea of a match-up with the former ONE Championship kingpin. Lee is already set to meet ex-UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos next month and said he was focused on that, but acknowledged Askren as a future option.
“I said I want to compete against the best,” Lee said. “So, if Ben and me end up meeting, then that’d be some fun. He’s got the curly hair going on, so I might be interested in that. It’s a good little clash of styles.”
Lee talked a little bit more about his desire to show “some real violence” against dos Anjos, after a decision loss to Al Iaquinta at UFC on FOX 31, with no other mention of Askren. As soon as he was done with his answer, though, Askren claimed the mic.
“Once upon a time in Milwaukee, a young Kevin Lee showed up at Duke Roufus’ gym,” Askren said. “Duke said, ‘Hey, there’s this young kid, can you work out with him? And it was just too easy to take him down. I start feeling really guilty about it.”
“Your stand-up was so bad that it was like, I didn’t want to hit you that hard,” Lee said. “And you went full blast on a double-leg, as I’m like, touching – Let’s tell the story. If you want to tell the story, speak some truth. If you know me, you know me. But speak facts. Facts when you see it.”
Neither man’s tone was contentious, though, and Askren even admitted to the “good job” Lee has been doing since then before adding another quip about how guilty he felt that day.
“I didn’t want to disappoint Duke by not having you come back,” Askren said, to which Lee answered with a smile.
“I learned a lot, I learned a lot,” Lee said. “Like you said, that was a young Kevin Lee. So I learned a lot. That’s going to be fun.”
Lee (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), a former interim lightweight title challenger, is set to make his debut as UFC welterweight on May 18, in a UFC on ESPN+ 9 headliner against a fellow ex-lightweight in dos Anjos (28-11 MMA, 17-9 UFC). The event takes place at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., and streams live on ESPN+.
Askren (19-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), in turn, looks to get add a second UFC win to his unblemished record when he meets Jorge Masvidal (33-13 MMA, 10-6 UFC), at UFC 239 on July 6.
Finding foes hasn’t seemed like much of a problem for the ever-resourceful Askren, but, hey, it doesn’t hurt to have options.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Ben Askren, Kevin Lee trade barbs about past training session