Ben Askren says he has no outstanding health issues following a brutal knockout over the weekend.
Jorge Masvidal landed a running knee to Askren's head just after the opening bell of their UFC 239 fight Saturday night in Las Vegas. The bout was ruled a five-second KO, the quickest in UFC history.
Askren was unconscious on impact and went limp. It was a frightening scene in the cage at T-Mobile Arena, with Askren trying to get up several times and not being able to. On his way out of the arena, Askren's eyes looked glazed over.
On Monday's Ariel Helwani's MMA Show, Askren said his last memory was being in the cage with Masvidal, but he did not recall the knockout and had no other recollection until he was in the hospital. When he finally fully came to his senses, though, Askren said he felt OK.
"When everything clicked, it was like my head didn't hurt, my face didn't hurt," Askren said. "Nothing hurt. I felt perfectly fine. There was no headache, no stomach ache, no nothing. Literally nothing. It was just, 'Ugh, this sucks.' I kept groaning the whole night, 'Ugh, I lost to that guy?'"
Askren said doctors performed a CT scan at the hospital and it came back negative for anything wrong with his brain. But he figures he was indeed concussed by Masvidal's blow.
"They said their test didn't show anything, obviously," Askren said. "But the fact that I went unconscious, I believe that's defined as a concussion."
Askren, who came into the fight undefeated, said he was released from the hospital by 10 p.m. and still went to his after party. He said he slept in Sunday, went to the pool and then had dinner with friends. Other than suffering his first loss to someone with whom he had bad blood coming in, Askren said he was mostly fine and accepting of the setback.
"I remember being in the cage with him," Askren said. "I don't really remember the flying knee. And then when I [could] recall, I remember everything. I was like, 'Oh s---, I lost to Jorge Masvidal. This freakin' sucks.'"
Askren, 34, was complimentary of Masvidal's execution of the knee. He said he expected some sort of technique like that right away, but Masvidal was able to land it perfectly.
"I'm seeing people saying Jorge got lucky," Askren said. "That's not lucky, man. Is it gonna happen 100 out of 100 times, definitely not. But landing a knee like that takes a lot of skill. I couldn't do such a thing."
Askren (19-1, 1 NC), who built the fight up with plenty of trash talk beforehand, said he still does not like Masvidal as a person, but believes he's a good fighter. He said he has not seen any of Masvidal's postfight comments and was fine with Masvidal punching him twice when he was already unconscious.
"I antagonized the s--- out of him," Askren said. "That was on purpose. I was trying to first get him to accept the fight, second then make him mad. Like those extra punches, it's fine. It's probably what should be expected in a scenario like that."
The former Bellator and ONE champion said that the last time he lost in a competitive setting like this, one for which he was seriously preparing, was when he wrestled in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Askren said he doesn't think it's a bad thing that he lost. He coaches youth wrestling and believes learning failure and struggle is a key part of building character. Askren also said he won't change his wrestling-heavy style in MMA just because he was caught once.
"Now because I got kneed in the head one time, I need to change everything?" Askren said. "I don't think that's a healthy way to think of things."