Nobody who has seen Ben Askren fight, or knows about his pedigree as one of the best collegiate wrestlers of recent vintage, would refer to him as a striker.

Duke Roufus, one of the game's best striking coaches, says those folks are in for a surprise.

Wrestling is always going to be the staple for Askren, the Bellator welterweight champion and a member of Team USA in the 2008 Olympics at Beijing. But those who saw Askren in his early days could see an accomplished striker when he defends his title tonight at Bellator 64 in Windsor, Canada, against Douglas Lima.

"He has hammers for hands," Roufus said. "I've sparred with Ben myself and I was unpleasantly surprised after getting hit by him. A lot of people sleep on Ben's striking. He's not an intimidating looking guy and he looks just like an average Joe. But believe me when I tell you, we have a lot of really good strikers at Roufusport and they'll all attest that he's a formidable opponent striking."

Askren was 8-0 and already the Bellator champion when he started to work with Roufus in August. With a fight slated in two months, Roufus didn't want to tear Askren's game apart completely.

He added little touches as best he could to prepare Askren for his bout with Jay Hieron, which he won by split decision.

But with five months of work in the gym, Roufus said it will be a different man on display tonight.

"He's got a great aptitude for fighting and he is one of those guys who, day after day, you see the improvement," Roufus said. "He picks up on the little things real well and you can see it. It's ridiculous how he picks up on things."

Askren has worked assiduously to make himself into a complete fighter. He was devastated after losing in the Olympics and had a difficult time accepting it. He decided to try MMA, knowing that if he didn't care for it, he could still continue preparations for the 2012 London Games.

And while he admittedly doesn't have the passion for MMA that he had for wrestling, he decided last year to concentrate full-time on it. After a glorious wrestling career in which he won two high school state championships, two NCAA Division I championships at Missouri and represented his country in the Olympics, he knew it wouldn't be easy to walk into another sport and have the same success.

As a competitor, though, he felt compelled to try. He's one of the sport's best wrestlers, clearly, but he's become a brown belt already in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his striking is coming on.

"I've wrestled my whole life and I worked a long time and very hard to get those [NCAA titles]," Askren said. "Obviously, that was the pinnacle of a lifetime of work. In MMA, I'm trying to do the same thing. I want to push myself every day and see how far I can take this."

He faces a tough challenge in Lima, a Brazilian who trained with UFC veteran Brian Stann in Atlanta. Lima is a hard hitter who knocked out Ben Saunders in November in the welterweight tournament final to earn the shot at Askren.

Askren knows he has to respect Lima's punching power, but Roufus pointed out that his fighter is a lot more versatile.

"I can go in my gym and find a guy who can do what Douglas Lima can do and we can give Ben work and get him ready," Roufus said. "But where is Lima going to find a guy like Ben, with his level of wrestling and his level of jiu-jitsu and who punches as hard as Ben does? That's a lot harder to find."

strong>Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Shootout between Tiger and Rory McIlroy has yet to materialize at Masters
Stan Van Gundy exposes Dwight Howard's power play for a new Magic coach
NFL culture change was coming even before Gregg Williams' infamous speech
Will Arkansas fans forgive Bobby Petrino or run him out of town?

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Bellator signs top wrestling heavyweight, Olympic hopeful Tyrell Fortune

  • 16 days ago
  • 1 views

Bellator has signed yet another standout amateur wrestler. With Aaron Pico and Ed Ruth already under contract, Bellator MMA has brought in Tyrell Fortune, one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the read news >>

Bellator signs Olympic wrestling hopeful/MMA newcomer Tyrell Fortune

  • 16 days ago
  • 0 views

While his focus remains on the 2016 Summer Olympics, noted amateur wrestler Tyrell Fortune has signed an MMA deal.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

'One Tough Cookie:' Bellator MMA signs 2016 Olympic hopeful wrestling standout Tyrell Fortune

  • 13 days ago
  • 0 views

Current member of the United States Olympic squad, Tyrell Fortune, has long been on the radar of MMA scouts thanks to his gaudy high school and college accolades. Bellator MMA has scored another futu read news >>

How a new division could help find a rival for Rousey (Yahoo Sports)

  • 24 days ago
  • 14 views

There are enough fighters for the UFC to add a women’s flyweight division, and perhaps develop a fresh threat for Ronda Rousey. read news >>

Paul Daley Prepares for Glory Against Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1

  • 24 days ago
  • 0 views

Bellator MMA competitors Paul Daley and Fernando Gonzalez will set up shop inside the GLORY kickboxing ring and showcase their striking skills at Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1. read news >>

Joe Warren vs. L.C. Davis, Beltran vs. Grove headline Bellator 143 in Texas

  • 25 days ago
  • 4 views

Bellator will return to Texas for the first time since March of 2012 when the promotion heads to the “Lone Star State” for Bellator 143.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Progress made on Rousey vs. 'Cyborg' fight, but don%26#x2019;t expect it in 2015 (Yahoo Sports)

  • 25 days ago
  • 3 views

From Yahoo Sports: There’s been a lot of chatter in the past week about a possible megafight, but who’s telling the truth? read news >>

Progress made on Rousey vs. 'Cyborg' fight, but don%26#x2019;t expect it in 2015 (Yahoo Sports)

  • 25 days ago
  • 3 views

From Yahoo Sports: There’s been a lot of chatter in the past week about a possible megafight, but who’s telling the truth? read news >>

Paul Daley vs. Fernando Gonzalez set as kickboxing bout at 'Bellator 142: Dynamite'

  • 25 days ago
  • 1 views

Bellator MMA welterweights Paul Daley and Fernando Gonzalez will trade in their MMA gloves for kickboxing mitts at next month’s combined Bellator MMA and GLORY spectacular.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Paul Daley takes on Fernando Gonzalez in kickboxing match at Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1

  • 25 days ago
  • 0 views

Paul Daley has his opponent set for Bellator MMA: Dynamite 1. The British star will meet Fernando Gonzalez in a kickboxing match on the hybrid card Sept. 19 in San Jose, sources told MMAFighting.com. read news >>