Admittedly, 2012 wasn’t quite the year that Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren thought it would be.
With only one fight – a unanimous decision over Douglas Lima in April – Askren spent more time working on his game than applying it.
“It’s been a lot of training,” said Askren looking back. “It’s been nine months (since my last fight), so I spent a lot of time in the gym working with my training partners and staying busy.”
Askren says the time off he had to work on his game was beneficial, but don’t expect to see a huge difference in his style in 2013.
“It’s hard to make big leaps, so you’ve just got to keep on working and eventually you’ll make a big leap, but it will start out as a small step.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t tightened up what was possibly the weakest area of his game.
“I’ve grown a lot in the striking department,” Askren told MMAWeekly.com. “The less you have to worry about something like that, the easier everything else is.”
Askren’s first fight of the year comes against the currently streaking Karl “Psycho” Amoussou, who has won four fights in a row heading into Thursday night’s Bellator 86 in Thackerville, Okla., live on Spike TV.
“I think Karl’s only chance is to get a lucky punch early in the fight,” said Askren. “He gets tired fast and he obviously doesn’t have the grappling advantage by any means. It’s going to be a tough fight for him.”
With only one fight last year, it’s understandable that Askren hopes that Thursday’s fight will be the first of many for him this year.
“If this is the only time I fight this year, hopefully it’s because I retired, but yeah, I’m going to fight a lot more this year for sure,” chuckled Askren.
Entering his second year as Bellator welterweight champion, Askren’s focus isn’t so much on whom he defends his title against as much as what he does when he gets in the cage with whoever dares oppose him.
“I’m not in charge of making my fights, so I really can’t set a goal as far as that aspect of it,” he said. “I can only set goals as far as once I get in the fight what I’m going to do.”