Former UFC star Ben Askren received unsubstantiated accusations he took a dive after his humiliating first round knockout at the hands of YouTube star Jake Paul — that result was less shameful than the alternative.
The 36-year-old on Sunday evening (AEST) was forced to give a two-word apology to the world after Paul flattened him with a right hand hook.
Askren, a college wrestling champion and grappling specialist, said he felt he was fine after the punch, but the referee didn’t think he could continue.
After weeks of declaring he could end Paul’s emerging boxing career, Askren was forced to issue an apology for his embarrassing performance.
“I probably deserve it,” Askren said of the flood of mockery he received from fans on social media, according to The New York Post.
“Because I got knocked out by Jake Paul. It’s f***ing embarrassing.”
It came after a more embarrassing tweet which read simply: “Sorry world”.
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He had earlier tried to shrug off the defeat, but the shame of losing to a part-time boxer eventually sunk in.
“I don’t really give a s***,” Askren said of the loss.
“There’s some pizza waiting in my hotel room. I’m gonna go eat that. I’m gonna fly home and hang out with my kids tomorrow, and on Monday I’ll probably be at wrestling practice.”
His casual demeanour after the loss — and the sight of Askren laughing with his wife as he left the ring — led to scepticism about the validity of the fight.
Some fans declared outright that the fix was in.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier tweeted: “Wait a minute, did Askren get us all? Like this is some magician stuff … he wasn’t laughing on his way to the back was he? Come on, Ben.”
Askren is reported to have received a guaranteed $US500,000 for the fight and reports claim he is also set to receive a small share of the pay per view sales.
“It’s probably going to be the biggest payday of my career,” Askren told Food Truck Diaries before the fight.
“I do have to have some type of monetary reward to take time out of my day to do this.
“They made me a nice offer, it was something I wanted to do anyway, so I said sure.”
Footage from Askren’s fight against Robbie Lawler at UFC 235 also resurfaced on social media after Sunday’s bout — the American copped repeated blows to the head in that March 2019 contest, but ultimately won.
But he couldn’t take one hit from Paul.
Paul meanwhile, declared after the fight his victory — his third career knockout in an undefeated record — shows he is a legitimate boxer.
“I’ve been in the training camp every day. I deserve that s***,” Paul said after the win.
“This is the craziest moment of my life.
“I told y’all I was going to do it in the first round. I told y’all I’m a real fighter. I don’t know how many times I got to prove myself that this is for real.”