Like most mixed martial arts fighters, England’s Scott Askham remembers the movie “Bloodsport” as being from a simpler time in his own development as a fighter.
After all, most watch the Jean Claude Van Damme cult classic before the age of 10, and while the film rarely holds up into adulthood, there are too many great memories of running in the backyard kicking trees with your shins and doing splits between desk chairs to overlook.
“For me, that one is the best,” Askham said. “When he gets Chong Li at the end and makes him verbally submit. (Laughs)”
A submission or a knockout is what Askham is looking for when he faces Pennsylvania wrestler Chris Dempsey at London’s O2 Arena this Saturday night.
“It’s exciting to be fighting in front of my home crowd and on such a big card,” he said.
Indeed, the UFC FIGHT PASS event, featuring a local legend in Michael “The Count” Bisping and one of the sport’s all-time greats in Anderson “The Spider” Silva, sold out in just 27 minutes.
Askham believes he has more than just a hometown advantage in this bout.
“The UFC had fights in his hometown just one week before this fight,” he says of Dempsey. “If I got dragged out here to fight the hometown guy a week after a show in my own country, I would feel a disadvantage. The crowd in London is going to be out of this world and I seriously can't wait for this one. My fans will be dressed as Knights to show their support.”
Just 1-2 thus far in under the UFC banner, Askham says he’s learned a lot since joining the big show, but also notes that he hasn’t been submitted or knocked out, and is making the adjustments he needs in order to win more exchanges and come out on the right side of decisions, or get the finish like he did in his second UFC bout against Antonio dos Santos last June.
“The middleweight division is ready for some fresh blood,” he says. “I don't feel I am in a position to start calling out certain fighters but believe me, as soon as I get a couple of wins you will hear me.”
New blood is exactly what the division received when champion Luke Rockhold took the belt from champion Chris Weidman in December. Askham is a fan of the new champ, and hopes to one day follow in his footsteps.
“He's beaten the best to be the champion and worked his way to the top, so credit where credit is due,” he said. “That being said, I know I can put anyone to sleep in the middleweight division. I am far away from a title shot, but I have the work ethic to make it to the very top of the game. I am becoming a better fighter everyday and you will see me in those fights in years to come.”
Fighting out of the Atherton Submission Wrestling Club in Bolton, England, Askham said he has prepared well for the grinding style that Dempsey loves to employ.
“He's looking to come in and stall the fight and hold me down,” he said. “I am better than him on the ground and standing. I am going in there to finish this fight and make a statement of where I belong in the division. I am not looking past Chris, but this means too much to me. I will go out there with my heart on my sleeve in front of my home crowd.”
Married last year and father to a baby girl, Askham said this fight at home in England, the first since he’s joined the UFC, will mean more to him than any other in his career.
“My family means everything to me,” he said. “This has been my goal, to fight in the UFC. My wife is a great support and she understands how much this means to me.”