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Retired MMA fighter Ben Askren starts favourite against YouTube sensation Jake Paul

Deven Kanal
·4 min read

Well, here we are again.

With YouTube sensation Jake Paul (2-0-0) taking on retired MMA fighter Ben Askren (0-0) on 17 April, the sweet science is playing host to yet another freak show fight in hopes of separating some poor suckers from their hard-earned monies.

Not that you can blame the promoters. After all, their job is to put on fights they think will sell. And the Paul brothers are a hot commodity. Jake's previous fight took place on the undercard of Mike Tyson's much-hyped return to the boxing ring against Roy Jones Jr.

That event sold around 1.6 million PPVs and generated more than $80 million in revenue.

His brother Logan's boxing debut in 2018 against fellow YouTube star KSI was even more impressive, reportedly selling 1.3 million PPVs with 1.2 million more watching illegal streams on platforms such as Twitch.

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Those numbers match up favourably when compared to some of the biggest names in combat sport: Conor McGregor and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez are among the few athletes to consistently pull such numbers.

Nor can you blame the fans. What with today's top fighters, from lightweight to heavyweight, more eager to trade blows on social media than in the squared circle.

With that little tirade out of the way, let's take a look at what we can expect from the eight-round fight.

The YouTube star

'Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay€¦" €" Sherlock Holmes.

Trying to analyse this fight puts one in mind of a saying by the world's most famous and fictional detective.

During his two professional bouts, Jake 'The Problem Child' has gone a grand total of three rounds. That's nine full minutes (if that). I dare say Jake has had more time in the shower after his bouts than actually in the ring.

Given his level of opposition €" fellow YouTuber Ali Eson Gib (0-0-1) (who?) and former basketball player Nate Robinson (0-0-1) (seriously, who?) €" there simply isn't enough data to commend or condemn his skills. Or lack thereof.

But let's give it a try anyway.

Jake's style is fairly rudimentary. Come forward, keep the hands up. Jab. Haymaker. Duck head. Repeat.

He's twitchy and hyperreactive in the way that all novices are when anticipating and taking return fire. Still, against his low calibre opponents, he kept his head and looked relatively poised.

He has guts. Stepping between the ropes and taking the chance of being separated from your senses, even for an incredible amount of money, is no joke. His two knockouts show that he can certainly pack a punch, even if his form leaves much to be desired.

And he isn't gun shy. But then his chin has never really been tested. The question is, will it be?

The retired MMA fighter

'Like a drunk uncle trying to swat a mosquito' €" A Redditor on the striking skills of Askren.

To be fair to 'Funky', striking was never the big weapon in his arsenal. Everything Askren did was geared towards maximising his Olympic-level wrestling pedigree: Taking opponents down and grinding them on the mats.

While there are countless YouTube videos devoted to mocking his offensive striking arsenal, it is to be noted that Askren doesn't have to become a world-class puncher to beat Jake. He just needs to be good enough to survive the initial onslaught and then pour the offence on later in the fight.

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The Pakistanis have a saying. Pace is pace, yaar.

There's a similar saying within the fight game. There's no substitute for experience.

From Kelly Pavlik to Canelo Alvarez to Justin Gaethje, opponents stepping up their level of competition have learned that lesson the hard way. While Askren's boxing skills are purely basic, I believe the time he spent in Mixed Martial Arts amassing a 19-0-2 record against world-class opponents will serve him well. As will the iron chin he's shown for the most part.

Expect Askren to employ the blueprint Mayweather used against McGregor. Do next to nothing in the first four rounds. Shell up. Stick and move. Let the younger and slightly bigger man burn himself out by going for the early knockout. By the time the bell sounds for Round 5, the YouTuber will have blown through his first wind.

Only then will Askren begin to open up. While 'Funky' isn't renowned as much of a puncher, sheer exhaustion combined with an accumulation of punches should do in the YouTube star.

Decision: Ben Askren by TKO round 7

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