Christian Pina is a professional sports bettor and host of InsideVegas on the Sports Gambling Podcast Network as well as a contributor for CP Sports. He has provided a breakdown and pick for UFC 239.
Ben Askren (-225) Vs Jorge Masvidal (+175)
I was critical of Ben Askren (19-0) prior to his UFC debut for one reason: his striking, or more specifically, his glaring hole in that side of his game. I don’t think that Askren is any less talented or that it makes him any less of a contender, but we saw with the beginning of the Robbie Lawler matchup that Askren is going to be at a disadvantage every time the fight starts standing.
That being said, we saw just how lethal his wrestling was as he came back from the brink of defeat to controversially stop Lawler. To be clear, Askren is on another planet when it comes to grappling and wrestling; the price just wasn’t right for his debut against the highest level of striker. Askren is certainly polarizing and employs a style of wrestling called “funk wrestling” but what does it mean?
Funk wrestling is using specific techniques that ignore strength and explosion while using quick transitions and awkward positions and Ben Askren is the best in the world at it. That being said, this fight presents a similar challenge for Askren as Jorge Masvidal (33-13) has some of the best boxing in the UFC and actually has much better takedown defense than Robbie Lawler.
Askren is going to have to get in close range to attempt takedowns against Masvidal, which means he’s going to absorb some punishment. Askren showed so much heart and fight in his first bout that I can’t go against him. He’s relentless in his takedown pursuit and even if he fails nine times, he only needs the most razor-thin Sportsbook to complete it, and no one has been able to get up after.
The UFC needs a return on its investment after making the first MMA trade to bring him into the promotion and this should be a title eliminator fight, as Masvidal was promised a title opportunity should he beat Askren. If you read between the lines, it would probably mean the same for Askren. This should look like a vintage Askren fight more than his debut, when he was almost knocked out in the Sportsbook moments.
Every Askren fight is going to be hairy along the way due to the holes in his striking game and the fact he will always take punishment while being in close range looking for takedowns. But until he shows me he can’t take the punishment required along the way anymore, I have to pick him.
Pick: Ben Askren via submission
Odds as of July 4 at Sportsbook