Ben Askren of United States celebrates after defeating Agilan Thani

Jorge Masvidal’s flying knee knockout of Ben Askren at UFC 239 this past weekend continues to be a hot topic. And the latest to react to it is ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

Sityodtong was, of course, Askren’s promoter when the latter was still at ONE Championship, and repeatedly insisted that “Funky” was the greatest welterweight in the world, regardless of whichever promotion was in the conversation.

So it was all the more intriguing to hear what he thought after Masvidal delivered Askren’s first-ever professional defeat, especially given the manner of it, being the fastest knockout in UFC history. While the ONE head honcho doesn’t believe Masvidal’s flying knee was a fluke, he feels the result was a “huge upset” similar to Matt Serra’s win over Georges St-Pierre.

He also added not to count Askren out despite the setback:

“People have been bombarding me for my thoughts on Ben Askren. To save time, here is what I think:

  1. Jorge’s flying knee was not luck. He drilled it. He planned it. He executed it. Jorge Masvidal deserves all of the props for pulling off a super hard, gutsy technique. It takes huge balls to go for it the way Jorge did, especially at the start of a high stakes fight. I am now a huge Gamebred fan.
  2. A flying knee is a high risk, low probability technique with KO consequences. It rarely lands clean. However, if you land it clean, it is good night.
  3. Despite this spectacular 5 second flying knee KO, it does not mean Jorge is a better fighter than Ben. If they fought another 100 times, Jorge would unlikely score a flying knee KO in 5 seconds ever again.
  4. It is genuinely hard to say who is the better fighter. We never got to see their skills in action in any area of the game.
  5. If Jorge had dominated Ben for 1-2 rounds and then scored a flying knee KO (or even won via unanimous decision), I would have agreed that Jorge is better than Ben.

It might sound counterintuitive, but I still believe Ben is the single best welterweight on the planet today. This loss reminds me of the time GSP got KO’d by Matt Serra. It was a huge upset, but it did not necessarily mean that Matt Serra was better than GSP. Their rematch emphatically proved this point.

Ben might look like he just got off a couch after eating a plateful of cheeseburgers and donuts, but do not be fooled. Ben is an absolute MONSTER. His wrestling is terrifying. And, his ground intelligence, man strength, and cardio are unparalleled. Above all though, Ben simply does not break. I will not reveal any names, but I have personally seen him destroy the highest level ONE and UFC champions many times in training (in addition to hearing inside stories of many other gym wars in the US). People can argue that training is not a real fight, but Ben has a history and reputation of delivering the same performance in both training and competition.

Don’t count Ben out. He is just getting started.”

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