UFC welterweight Ben Askren is coming off a devastating five-second loss to Jorge Masvidal - his first professional defeat - and hopes to bounce back by showcasing his full skill set
against Demian Maia on Oct. 26.
"This fight camp ... has more possibilities than most of my other fights," Askren told theScore. "My other fights, it was simple. It's like, 'Hey I'm so much better of a grappler, all I need to do is close the distance so they don't hit me, take them down, and then I beat their ass for the entire time.' Even in that stretch, I've fought some good grapplers like Douglas Lima or Shinya Aoki. I've fought some pretty good grapplers, but Demian is just on another level and in addition, he has solid wrestling."
Askren (19-1) knows Maia is a threat on the ground - the Brazilian boasts 13 career victories by submission - and that his wrestling will need to be at its best when they square off in Singapore.
"For Demian, it's like, I can't dive in there on shit takedowns and then figure out how to get on top of him and beat him up," he said. "I need to set my takedowns up really well, I need to execute on them, and end up in a good position. The intellectual chess of that has been fun preparing for it."
Maia (27-9) heads into the main event coming off back-to-back victories, including a majority-decision win over Anthony Rocco Martin in June. The 37-year-old has turned things around after losing three straight fights to Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, and Kamaru Usman.
Asken believes that a win over the UFC veteran won't guarantee a title shot.
"I don't think one (victory earns a title shot), I think a win against Maia puts me in a position to call out someone very highly ranked," he said. "Then if I win that fight then that would put me in position to fight for a title. That's kind of how I feel about it."
UFC Fight Night 162 takes place Oct. 26 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang. Watch the full interview with Asken below and subscribe to theScoreMMA Youtube channel here.