ONE welterweight world champion Ben “Funky” Askren promised a more action-packed bout when he faces Russian Nikolay Aleksakhin in a five-round match in ONE: Global Rivals on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I owe the Filipino fans. The Filipino fans were unfairly robbed of a good fight. I have to do an extra dominant job on Friday to make sure the Filipino fans get a fight made up for them that they lost out on last year,” Askren told The Manila Times on Wednesday.
Askren’s April 2015 fight against Luis “Sapo” Santos of Brazil was halted after the latter was unable to continue because of an inadvertent eye poke. A supposed rematch was scheduled later in Singapore but Santos failed to meet the required weight.
“I would have like to really fought but the circumstances did not work out,” he added.
Though he was out of competition for nearly a year, Askren continues to train and improve his wrestling, ground and pound and jiu-jitsu plays, which he promised to unleash on his next fight.
“I did not stop training. I train the whole time. I have refined a few on those areas and make myself smoother now.”
Besides his personal training, he was preoccupied helping his brother to conduct wrestling clinics for up and coming fighters.
An all-American and collegiate wrestling legend, Askren won the ONE Welterweight World Championship via technical knockout victory over Nobutatsu Suzuki in 2014.
Aleksakhin, on the other hand, is coming off a six-bout winning streak.
“I am honestly 100 percent not concerned about anything Nikolay brings to the table. He’s not an elite striker,” said the undefeated Askren who holds a 14-0 card.
“He is a pretty well rounded fighter. His striking is good but not definitely I would consider dangerous. Expect something new. My style is very unique and I execute exactly what I want to do every single time.
“I face strikers who are twice as good as him on a daily basis at practice. He is not as good of a wrestler as me. He can take me down all he wants because once we get on the ground, he is in my world,” Askren said.
Aleksakhin made his debut in ONE with an impressive third-round rear naked choke win against Burenzorig Batmunkh of Mongolia in November 2015. Aleksakhin now has 17-3 win-loss record.