Bellator 97 showcased an exciting card last night, which featured a welterweight championship bout between current champ Ben Askren and the heavy-handed Andrey Koreshkov. From the opening bell, it was apparent that Koreshkov had nothing to offer Askren, as Askren was able to get takedown after takedown.
Transitioning from side mount to full mount, Askren put on a grappling clinic. Askren was so dominant that he even started a USA chant while on the back of Koreshkov. A telling sign in this fight was that Koreshkov didn’t work on his wrestling defense at all leading up to this championship bout. Not a smart move when your facing a great, if not the greatest, wrestler in all of MMA.
Askren has received a lot of unwarranted flack for not finishing his opponents, but this wasn’t the case in this title fight. In the fourth round, he was able to pour on punch after punch, and it was clear Koreshkov was done. The ref stopped the bout, allowing Askren to retain his welterweight title, which was his fourth straight title defense. An interesting thing coming out of this fight is what does Askren do next?
This was his last fight under his Bellator contract, leaving the doors wide open for him to transition over to the UFC. The UFC’s welterweight division has long been considered one of the most stacked and competitive divisions in all of the UFC, and Askren would be a huge addition to their roster. He is arguably the best wrestler in MMA right now, and it would be intriguing to see him matched up alongside such greats as Georges St. Pierre, Rory MacDonald or even Jake Shields.