Ben Askren defends ONE welterweight title in Singapore
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 08, 2017 12:34 PM
Ben Askren puts his ONE welterweight title on the line against Agilan Thani in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
ONE Championship just announced a blockbuster co-main event for ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 26 May. Undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren (15-0, 1NC) will put his title on the line against rising young Malaysian star Agilan “Alligator” Thani (7-0).
The 21-year-old Thani is fresh off his most impressive victory last February when he defeated Taiwanese MMA veteran Jeff Huang via rear-naked choke. Following the win, Thani took the microphone and immediately called for a shot at Askren, telling fans that he was ready for the big leagues.
Askren, who is over 10 years Thani’s senior, hasn’t fought since his five-round unanimous decision victory over Russia’s Nikolay Aleksakhin in April of 2016. He signed with ONE Championship in 2014, winning the ONE Welterweight World Championship in his second outing for the promotion with a first-round technical knockout over Nobutatsu Suzuki.
Thani, on the other hand, made a name for himself as the Malaysian Invasion MMA (MIMMA) welterweight champion, enjoying a successful amateur MMA career before turning professional in December of 2013. All seven of the young prospect’s wins since then have come impressively by finish, including four by submission and three by knockout, with five taking place in the first round.
“We are excited to announce that ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren is back and he’s ready to welcome the young Agilan Thani to the upper echelon of the division,” said Victor Cui, CEO of ONE Championship. “It is going to be an awesome showdown of youth versus experience, on a night fans will not want to miss.”
Thani made his intentions for a title shot known further when he took to social media to personally call Askren out, goading the defending champion into an exchange of verbal barbs on Facebook and Twitter. After seven solid wins to start his pro career, Thani believes he is in the best position to challenge for the title. The two have been going at it for the past several weeks.
Askren of course, never one to back down from a challenge, told fans he would gladly accept the fight. Now, with contracts signed, sealed, and delivered, Askren is scheduled to face Thani in a showdown that is expected to draw a massive Malaysian following.
Known as one of the best fighters in the entire world pound-for-pound, Askren will once again put his world-class wrestling on display. The former NCAA Division I All-American is a collegiate wrestling legend who successfully transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2009. Throughout his MMA career, Askren has amassed 15 solid victories with none of his opponents offering much of a challenge.
Always dominant and ready to put on a show, Askren makes his much-anticipated return to competition against Thani, whose base is also heavily reliant on wrestling. Thani, in turn, will face the toughest test of his young career.
ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES is set to also feature the return of ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee (7-0), as she makes her way back to Singapore to take on top contender Istela Nunes (6-0) of Brazil in the night’s main event.
Additional bouts at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES have yet to be announced.
This article was first published in the ONE CHAMPIONSHIP Website. Photos courtesy of ONE Championship.
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