When the novel coronavirus put the world into lockdown, some may have seen only the difficulty of the situation, but for others they saw opportunity, and used the time to improve what they could. For bantamweight Askar Askar, he was one of the latter.
For Askar, the lockdown wasn’t a detriment, but more an opportunity to continue to develop who he was as a person and as a fighter.
“The world was at a standstill with this coronavirus stuff, but it gave me a lot of time to look at myself, do things and learn things about myself, and improve myself,” Askar told MMAWeekly.com. “Honestly, the time was not wasted or felt like it got taken away. It added time to learn and to be better as a human being and a fighter.”
While some aspects of training got more difficult, Askar and his team were able to place an emphasis on other areas of preparation to make up for it.
“I feel like the biggest difference this year with the coronavirus was you got a lot less contact with sparring, a lot less contact with grappling, but you focus on quality,” said Askar. “We’re not trying to hand out concussions or messing around in sparring; we’re focusing on getting better, clean technique, strength and conditioning, all the good stuff.
“I feel like I’ve added more strength in the last six, seven months, than I’ve ever had before. I think I’m coming a little bit into my own and getting that grown man strength. I feel like I’m stronger and I’m able to put the strength on guys – it feels a lot different from last year.”
This Friday in Park City, Kansas, Askar (10-1) will look to rebound off his sole career loss when he faces Kevin Wirth (8-1) in the 135-pound bantamweight main event of LFA 92.
“He has a different style,” Askar said of Wirth. “Not a lot of guys have his style. He has that front kick, the push kick, the kicks, the jabs, the punches, the hooks. I definitely haven’t fought anybody with that kind of game.
“He’s going to try to be in there and strike and kickbox with me, and I want to see how he does with that. And then if I want to impose my will, put the pressure him and take him down I feel I have the ability to do that. I want to see if he has the ability to stop me. That’s the real question to me.”
While the future and what opportunities winning an LFA main event could provide him are on Askar’s mind, his main focus is his bout with Wirth and taking care of that business first.
“I like focusing on the fight, but I don’t mind talking about what’s next,” said Askar. “I’m already for what’s next. I’m always ready to fight.
“But I’m always focused on the now. Wednesday I fly out to Wichita, Thursday I weigh in, and Friday I fight, and then after that we’ll talk about the next game plan, but I’m always going to be focused on what’s happening here and now.”