Askren used his wrestling to maintain control in this fight (Photo by Augustine Dashiell, Plainfield Sports News).
Ben Askren Decisions Lyman Good to Win Title at Bellator 33
While he has admittedly been punching for just over a year, Ben Askren (7-0) used superb wrestling and a well-scripted game plan to take the Bellator Welterweight Championship from Lyman Good (10-1) tonight at Bellator 33 in Philadelphia. Askren used early takedowns to gain the upper hand on the defending champion throughout the five rounds of competition, eventually seeing his hand raised in victory after taking the decision on all three judges’ score cards.
“There’s a lot of places I can get better,” Askren said at the post-fight press conference. “I can punch harder, I can finish better on top, but I’m pretty happy with my performance. And I knew at one time in my career, I’d have to go the full five rounds and show what kind of heart I had, so I’m just glad people got to see I have heart.”
From the opening introductions in this match, it was clear that the Liacouras Center crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Good, who hails from New York City. Askren, a native of Phoenix, would have to overcome both a hostile audience and a well-groomed champion to emerge victorious, and he came in with just the game plan to make it happen.
As soon as the bell rang for the first frame, Askren immediately shot for the legs of Good, and he was successful in his attempt. While Askren was able to quickly garner ground control, Good appeared to be quite comfortable from the bottom position and railed off a flurry of punches. Askren then slipped into side control before returning to the full mount, but Good was able to work his way into the top position for the upper hand. Askren made an attempt to work an arm bar, but Good slipped loose and took the fight back to the stand-up position. Askren then grappled into the clinch before hip tossing his opposition back into the full mount. Good did a nice job of controlling the hands of his opponent, and he was eventually able to reverse the positioning as the first stanza came to a close.
When the second round got underway, Askren again went for the takedown, but Good did a better job of defending the attempt. The two fighters then worked into the clinch before Askren was able to get his opposition to the canvas. He slipped his way into side control, but Good was making it very hard for him to work. He eventually turned his position back to the full mount, and this frame began to play out very similar to the first. Askren maintained the upper hand and tried to wear down the champion by leaning his weight onto him, trying to unload some strikes and elbows as the rest of the stanza concluded.
Askren again wasted no time in shooting for a takedown in the third round, and he quickly slid from side control back into the full mount. The challenger started to throw more right hands onto his opponent, while also keeping his head down and not leaving himself vulnerable for open strikes. Askren clearly had a game plan for this match, and he was sticking to it. Good looked for holes to strike from the bottom, but his opponent made it tough to put anything behind the blows.
When Askren went for another immediate takedown at the start of the fourth frame, Good was better prepared and blocked his initial attempt. With the two fighters standing, some blows were exchanged, but Askren again flexed his wrestling to take the action to the ground. He slipped back and forth between the full mount and side control, making sure to hold the advantage the entire way. Referee Kevin Mulhall did stand the duo up at the midway point where Good was able to land some sharp punches, but Askren stuck to the game plan and once again grappled him back to the floor. From the bottom, Good tried to throw some hammer punches, while Askren retaliated with some hard body shots.
With the effects of a five-round title fight starting to wear on them both, the fifth stanza remained in the stand-up position much longer than its predecessors. Askren looked to shoot on his opponent, but his advances were beginning to come much slower than they previously were being conducted. Good looked to be gaining some momentum, but Askren again found an opening at the 3:40 mark to return the match to the ground. He next moved into the full mount while his opposition attempted to power his way out, but the challenger did a nice job of using his weight to maintain the upper hand. Things appeared to get just a bit scary for Askren when he allowed Good to get into the crab position and quickly struck him with a vicious upkick, but the former Olympian was able to somehow recover fairly quickly. With the championship title within his reach, Askren then finished out the evening from the full mount with both fighters swinging until the final bell.
“As you can tell, me and Askren look like we just came out of a freaking Rocky movie,” a humbled Good said after the match. “Sometimes you gotta take some things, whether good or bad, as a blessing in disguise. You gotta pick up where you lost the fight, go back to the drawing board, get better and then just go back out there. That’s what it takes to be a true champion.”
While both fighters showed the wounds of a devastating battle after the bout, Askren got the better on each of the judges’ three score cards. When all was said and done, the former Olympian got the gold after scoring tallies of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47.