Ben Askren didn’t understand Colby Covington’s “strategy” at UFC 296, reveals ideal next opponent for ‘Chaos’

By Cole Shelton - December 20, 2023

Ben Askren was confused with Colby Covington’s performance at UFC 296.

Ben Askren and Colby Covington

Covington was fighting for the undisputed welterweight title for the third time, as he took on Leon Edwards in the main event. It likely was going to be his final title shot, and Covington did not fight how he normally does. Colby Covington didn’t chain wrestle or push a pace as he usually does. Instead, he fought off his back foot and didn’t throw many punches for the first round rounds, which confused Ben Askren.

“That was weird, I didn’t know what to think, I don’t know what his strategy was,” Ben Askren said to MiddleEasy about Colby Covington. “I think the best strategy for victory for him was to make cardio a factor, get the takedowns, and stay on top which is what he did in the fifth round, but I think Leon kind of at the same time said, ‘I’m gonna concede this round, I’ve won this fight.’ That type of thing, which I don’t know if that was the right move by him, but that’s what he did.

“So, it looked like he was kind of fearful of Leon’s striking, stayed back, and never got in the groove. Even in those grappling exchanges, later on, Leon proved himself to be more than formidable. There were a few times when he even got over-aggressive or overconfident and ended up in a bad position because of it,” Askren continued.

According to Ben Askren, he also believes the layoff and ring rust negatively impacted Colby Covington at ufc 296.

“I guess what I would chalk it up to if I had to guess and I’m not in Colby’s head, but he hasn’t fought in almost two years and that fight was against Jorge Masvidal a guy he knew he was way better than. He hasn’t in a real fight for over two years, one where he thought this guy is really tough and really competitive and I will have to put on my best performance to beat him. In that time, I feel like he wanted to live that celebrity lifestyle and not grind like he used to. Maybe that gave him some doubt in his own ability and that is where the hesitation came from,” Askren said.

Although Ben Askren was confused by Colby Covington’s performance at UFC 296, ‘Funky’ believes ‘Chaos’ still can get himself to another title shot.

If Covington wants to become champion, Askren believes the logical next fight for him is to face Shavkat Rakhmonov.

“Maybe Shavkat? I don’t know if Shavkat would take the fight. The one that makes sense is if you go Leon vs. Belal and then you go Shavkat vs. Covington and if Colby were to beat Shavkat, maybe he gets another title shot because that is someone who would make you worthy of that,” Askren concluded.

For now, Colby Covington has made it clear he wants Stephen Thompson next which Ben Askren isn’t a fan of.


Ben Askren Colby Covington UFC