ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren has been absolutely flawless in his martial arts career.
The 33-year-old has accumulated an impeccable professional record of 17-0 (1 NC) on the strength of his Olympic wrestling. His grappling has been so impressive, he makes it look effortless.
Askren plans to cap off an extraordinary career on Friday, 24 November, when he defends the belt for the last time against former ONE Lightweight World Champion and Evolve MMA teammate, Shinya Aoki, in his retirement bout at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT in Singapore.
As the American prepares for his grand finale, let’s revisit some of his greatest victories inside the ONE Championship cage.
The Submission Of Bakhtiyar Abbasov
In May 2014, “Funky” left North America as a champion to compete against the best in ONE Championship. He made his promotional debut at ONE: HONOR & GLORY against fellow newcomer Bakhtiyar Abbasov of Azerbaijan.
In the first 45 seconds of the contest, Abbasov flipped the script. The Azerbaijani brought Askren to the ground with a beautiful takedown, took his back, and latched on for a front bulldog choke. But the ever-composed American jockeyed for position, threw some short punches, and cradled Abbasov onto his back. Askren then secured side control, trapped his opponent’s arms, and rained down short right punches.
Abbasov tried his best to scramble, but Askren was always one step ahead, as he got into more dominant positions and continued delivering powerful strikes. The end finally came in the last minute of the opening stanza when the American worked an arm-triangle choke, tightened the hold, and moved his body clockwise until Abbasov tapped.
Capturing Nobutatsu Suzuki’s ONE Weltwerweight World Championship
Three months following a successful promotional debut, Askren challenged inaugural ONE Welterweight World Champion Nobutatsu Suzuki of Japan for the title at ONE: REIGN OF CHAMPIONS in August 2014. It was the organization’s first foray into Dubai.
Four ticks of the clock into the bout, Suzuki threw a lead kick. Askren, who had scouted it perfectly, instantaneously grabbed the Japanese for a takedown. The American got on his back and proceeded to land his trademark ground-and-pound.
Suzuki covered up to shield himself from the onslaught, causing “Funky” to redouble his efforts. Eventually, the referee had no choice but to wave off the contest.
It took just minute and 24 seconds for Askren to dispose of Suzuki and claim the ONE Welterweight World Championship.
The Successful Title Defense Against Agilan Thani
While Thani had dominated his opposition in previous matches with a relentless grappling attack, the American used his world-class wrestling and nonstop motor to overwhelm the self-admitted starstruck challenger.
“Funky” scored a quick takedown just seconds into the contest. He floated around in top position, pummelled Thani with punches, and nearly caused the referee to stop the bout right then and there. Though the Malaysian got back up with a herculean effort, Askren dumped him back to the ground and systematically worked an arm-triangle choke. He got the tap at the 2:20 mark of the first round.
The Dominant TKO Of Zebaztian Kadestam
Following his victory over Thani, Askren stood in the center of the cage and got on the microphone. He immediately called out Swedish knockout artist Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam, who had upset former title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos and knocked him out earlier in the night.
The bout was scheduled that September at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, the promotion’s inaugural show in the Chinese city. This time, however, Kadestam was not able to pull off the upset. Instead, he wound up being another victim of the champ’s signature ground game.
Soon after the opening bell rang to begin the tilt, Askren slammed Kadestam to the canvas with a massive double leg takedown. The American remained in the top position and kept dropping ground strikes on his durable opponent, who failed to escape the champion’s grasp on multiple occasions.
Although the Swede made it to the second round, “Funky” ducked a jab-cross and secured another double leg takedown. More of the same ground-and-pound ensued, and at one point Askren nearly submitted Kadestam with a rear-naked choke.
The Swede may have broken free of the hold, but the momentum of the bout remained unchanged, and the referee stopped the bout at 4:09 of the second round, awarding Askren the TKO victory.
Singapore | 24 November | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com