When Ben Askren turned professional as a mixed martial artist in February 2009, he did so on the heels of a remarkable amateur wrestling career.

Askren, who competed for the University of Missouri at 174 pounds, was a two-time NCAA national champion and four-time All-American after posting a career record of 153-8. What set Askren apart from his peers, however, was his dominance.

Of his 153 wins, 91 were by pinfall – good for third on the all-time NCAA Division-I list.

After a disappointing showing at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Askren transitioned to MMA, where he won titles in both Bellator and ONE Championship and remained unbeaten through 19 fights. Still, with those accolades to his credit, there is one thing Askren said he regrets about his career given his pinning prowess in wrestling.

“I never really had a great jiu-jitsu coach until really the end of my career when I found Marc Laimon. I really enjoyed him. But before that, there was really a mix of different jiu-jitsu coaches at (Roufusport), and I think that my potential to choke people out went untapped,” Askren said in response to a fan question on Twitter. “I was the best pinner in modern era of college wrestling, and I think if I would have went to work with, say, the Danaher Death Squad or Marcelo Garcia, I could have really tapped into that at a much higher level. But then at the same time, I really liked being coached by Duke (Roufus), that was going well, and I always thought, ‘Hey, I’m good enough on the ground. I need to work on the striking end of the takedowns.’ I always thought, ‘Hey, I’m going to be done in a couple of years.’ And then it just ended up so happening that I fought until effing 2019.

“If I would have put some more time into jiu-jitsu, I think I could have gotten better choking people. But, hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. That’s what I would have done a little bit differently had I been able to go back and do it again.”

Askren, 36, retired from MMA late last year. He’d originally retired as ONE’s welterweight champ, undefeated at 18-0, in November 2017, but that was short lived when the UFC and ONE Championship executed a trade that sent Demetrious Johnson to the Asian-based promotion and finally gave Askren the opportunity to compete at the highest level.

That was something Askren always wanted, but he could never convince UFC president Dana White – until the trade was executed in November 2018. Askren went 1-2 in the UFC, beating Robbie Lawler by controversial technical submission in his promotional debut before being finished by Jorge Masvidal and Demian Maia in his next two fights.

When he looks back on his overall career path, Askren said he has no regrets.

“As far as the career path I took, had I been able to foresee the future, I don’t think (I’d change anything),” Askren said. “When I was 3-0, and Bellator offered me that deal, I thought that was a really great deal. I thought it was an outstanding opportunity, which it was. Right? My time in Bellator went really well, and at the end of that, when my negotiation came up, it didn’t work out with Dana and the UFC. To this day, I still don’t know why. So I couldn’t change that.

“I found a great home in ONE Championship. Everything went well there. I retired, I came back, so from that perspective, I wouldn’t change anything.”