Funky: My Defiant Path Through the Wild World of Combat Sports


A riveting memoir by former MMA champion and Olympic wrestler, Ben Askren, who cut a polarizing path through amateur wrestling and professional mixed martial arts as a firebrand figure who fans loved or hated—but could never keep down.

One of the most dominant college wrestlers in history, Ben Askren became a folk hero during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, before going on to become a multiple time MMA champion and one of the sport’s biggest stars. Through it all, he emerged as a cult figure in combat sports.

Here, in the pages of Funky, this record-breaking wrestler and polarizing UFC fighter shares how he came to dominate opponents while blazing a trail through competitors in unprecedented ways. Not blessed with natural athleticism, he revolutionized folkstyle wrestling by innovating his own technique, developing a scrambling, unorthodox style, which earned him the famous nickname, “Funky.”

What ensued was an improbable takeover of combat sports by a firebrand who defied tradition, becoming the University of Missouri’s first ever national champion while twice winning the prestigious Dan Hodge trophy. Now, Askren opens up about how he bucked convention, how he used his wrestling base to seize the world of cage-fighting, and how he eventually forced UFC president Dana White to end their decade-long public feud via a historic trade to give the fans what they wanted: Ben Askren in the UFC.

Love him or hate him, win or lose, Ben Askren showed what determination means by staying true to one of his earliest revelations on the mats:  “I was never going to let anybody outwork me.”