Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Holds Barred: Ben Askren on January 24 Bellator Title Defense and Voluntary Anti-Doping Association 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Bellator MMA welterweight champion Ben Askren.

His next fight will be Thursday, January 24, when he defends his title against welterweight tournament winner Karl Amoussou. This fight will take place at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and be telecast live in the U.S. on Spike TV. Also on that card will be the Bellator debut of "King" Mo Lawal in an opening round fight in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament.

We spoke with Ben Askren by phone Wednesday afternoon about what to expect in this fight, as well as his participation in the drug-testing program of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

"Karl's an explosive fighter. He comes out and goes hard," he said of his opponent in this interview. "He is dangerous in a lot of different areas, but at the same time I don't think he poses a big challenge for me. He doesn't strike very proficiently. He does come out and be aggressive. But I know I'll be able to weather that initial storm and then do a lot of damage and control him in the fight, because he doesn't fight hard for very long. He fights hard for a short period of time. And if he doesn't win, then he tries to kind of hang on for the rest of the fight."

The VADA testing program consists of voluntary, random, unannounced blood and urine testing for performance-enhancing drugs. While Ben is one of the few MMA athletes to participate in the VADA program, he said that the various athletic commissions and promoters must take further measures and have better testing to stop the widespread use of PEDs in MMA.

PED use in MMA is so widespread that he commented, "Some people are very open about it. Some people don't even make it a secret, which is embarrassing." Asked to make a guesstimate as to what percentage of MMA fighters use PEDs, he replied, "I would go somewhere around 50. 50 percent would be a good guess."

We discussed his transition from college and Olympic freestyle wrestling into being a mixed martial arts fighter, and how he continues to follow closely the sport of wrestling. We also discussed that his younger brother, Max Askren, who like Ben had been a Div. I NCAA wrestling champion for Missouri, will be representing the U.S. at the 2013 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup at 84kg in Tehran, Iran, February 21-22, and more.

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