Ben Askren Records Fastest Win Of Unblemished Career
Undefeated ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren brought the curtain down on a stellar martial arts career with a quick TKO victory over his Evolve MMA teammate Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki.
It was just as he had promised in the weeks leading up to the bout. The sensational win took place in the main event of ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Askren took his flawless professional record to 18-0, 1 NC with the fastest finish of his career, hammering Aoki with ground strikes to force the TKO stoppage just 57 seconds into the opening stanza.
The pair trained alongside each other for years at Singapore’s Evolve MMA, and the respect between the two was there for all to see when they opted to shake hands rather than engage in the usual touching of gloves before the bout.
Once the contest got underway, that mutual respect was put to the side, as they battled for the ONE Welterweight World Championship.
What many expected to be a grappling chess match between the two ended abruptly, after Askren punished Aoki for an outrageous early submission attempt in the initial seconds of the contest.
After landing a stiff left hand in the opening exchange of the bout, “Tobikan Judan” lived up to his nickname as “The Grand Master of Flying Submissions” when he leapt into the air and jumped guard.
Askren, a 2008 Olympic wrestler for Team USA, was wise to the maneuver. After taking a brief moment to compose himself, he slammed his Japanese teammate powerfully into the canvas, and landed in Aoki’s guard.
It was from that position that “Funky” clinically finished the bout. He postured up and unloaded a barrage of ground and pound that Aoki, a former ONE Lightweight World Champion, was powerless to stop.
Seeing that Aoki was overwhelmed by Askren’s ground strikes, referee Olivier Coste stepped in to call a stop to the contest, handing the American his 18th career win, his fourth ONE Championship title defense, and the fastest finish of his eight-year professional martial arts career.
After the bout, Askren thanked a host of teammates and coaches, as he paid tribute to those who helped drive him to success from an early age.
As one of their own, Amir Khan got a huge reception from the fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium ahead of his matchup with Australia’s Adrian “The Hunter” Pang.
The Brisbane, Australia native served as the Evolve MMA product’s most experienced opponent to date, so it was a real litmus test of whether Khan belongs in the upper echelons of the ONE lightweight division.
Khan passed the test, and with flying colors, coming out the clear victor after three rounds of action. With his renowned iron chin and unbreakable will, “The Hunter” kept himself in the match right to the very end, but he just was not sharp enough to overcome the young Singaporean lion on Friday, 24 November, at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT.
In the first round, Khan really set the template for the bout, attacking with sidekicks to the lead thigh of Pang and mixing up his attacks with kicks to the body and head.
With a reach and speed advantage, he kept himself out of danger with long combinations, swiftly moving around the cage as the Aussie attempted to close him down.
Pang’s game plan was to pressure his opponent into the fence and take him down, but the 23-year-old was able to defend well. Moving into the second, “The Hunter” tried to stalk his prey, and then attack with hooks to push him backwards.
However, it was the Singaporean who came out ahead, as he was hitting, moving, and dealing damage the whole way through. Pang did manage to execute some impressive takedowns, but was unable to keep his man on the mat for very long.
With one round left and victory in his sights, Khan kept up the pressure with his kicks. His Australian foe kept pressing forward, eating punches and clean head kicks with seemingly no issue at all, but Khan remained disciplined, racking up the points and causing damage.
They ended the bout wrestling for control against the cage, with the Singaporean working well to get his back off the fence. When the final bell rang, it was clear that Khan would emerge victorious via unanimous decision.
With improvements shown in each outing, Amir Khan puts his name amongst the lightweight division’s elite. He will certainly have his eyes on the title picture with six straight victories, the ONE record for most finishes and knockouts, and a 9-2 record.
Still, even in victory, he showed great respect to his opponent, who fell to 22-11-2.
Leandro “Brodinho” Issa has officially started off his second stint in ONE Championship on a hot streak.
Just three months following a successful promotional debut, the former BJJ World Champion made a strong statement to the rest of the bantamweight division, scoring a decisive win over “Ottogi” Dae Hwan Kim on Friday, 24 November, at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT in Singapore.
Issa was like a predator chasing his prey in the opening minute of the first round, as he walked Kim around the cage before finally pressing forward with a quick combination. Then, he dragged the former ONE Bantamweight World Title challenger to the mat.
It was the last place South Korea’s Kim wanted to be, as Issa, a third-degree BJJ black belt, methodically broke down his defense to advance his position on the ground.
Issa began blasting away with punches against the cage, but Kim stayed composed before exploding off the mat to get back to his feet. It was a momentary victory before Issa got the contest back down to the mat, where he moved into the mount. The bell rang before he could do any real damage, however.
As the second frame got underway, Issa was once again relentless with his takedowns as he once again planted Kim on the canvas and immediately moved into mount, where he looked to deliver some ground and pound.
The South Korean did his best to scramble free from the vice-like grip of the Brazilian, but Issa had him stuck in quicksand with little chance to escape, all while peppering away with punches and constantly looking for submissions.
When the third round started, Issa wasted no time in dragging Kim to the mat again, and the South Korean was undoubtedly frustrated after spending the majority of the bout playing defense on his back.
The Brazilian was in constant control, taking the back and locking up the body triangle to try and suck the will out of Kim. Admirably, the Korean refused to give up, but was clearly in survival mode during the final moments of the match.
With seconds remaining, Issa made one last attempt to finish the contest with a lightning-quick armbar, but Kim slipped free and managed to make it to the final horn, even landing several shots for good measure.
The judges all agreed that after three rounds, Issa was the clear-cut winner, and earned the unanimous decision victory.
Issa is now 15-6 in his career, and undoubtedly moves himself one step closer to challenging for ONE gold. Also, he becomes only the second athlete outside of bantamweight king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes to defeat Kim, who drops to 12-2-1.
Former Singapore Olympian and champion swimmer turned martial artist, “Mighty” May Ooi, gave another scintillating performance on 24 November, to the delight of a roaring hometown crowd at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT.
Ooi went to battle with Cambodia’s “Pretty Punch” Vy Srey Khouch in a three-round catchweight contest, and the Asian BJJ champion impressed with her superior grappling.
Ooi made quick work of the 26-year-old Phnom Penh native to win by rear-naked choke, with the end coming officially at 3:58 of the very first round.
A brief feeling out period commenced at the center of the ONE Championship cage once the opening bell rang. Ooi and Khouch were both hesitant to engage, wary of each other’s skills, but that quickly dissipated when the former Olympian successfully brought the action to the ground with a takedown.
Khouch, a Kun Khmer flyweight champion and professional boxer, was unable to defend against Ooi’s grappling, and it became evident that the Cambodian was at a disadvantage on the ground. Moments later, Ooi had already secured full mount and was threatening with an arm triangle.
Realizing she was not in the correct position to complete the hold, Ooi transitioned into a more advantageous position, taking Khouch’s back and sinking in the bout-ending choke. As soon as the “Mighty” athlete had her arm snaked underneath the Cambodian’s chin, the tap came swiftly after.
Ooi wasted no time in making her intentions known, and asked for an opportunity for a world title.
“To compete in front of this amazing crowd, this win is for Singapore. Hopefully for an early Christmas present, I’m looking for a title shot sometime next year,” she exclaimed.
Ooi made a successful ONE Championship debut earlier this year with a highlight reel submission over Malaysia’s Ann “Athena” Osman. Now, her victory over Khouch is her second straight for the promotion, and fourth overall.
One of the most anticipated bouts scheduled to take place at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT ended in unfortunate fashion.
There was plenty of attention on the bout between China’s Li Kai Wen and Pakistan’s Ahmed “The Wolverine” Mujtaba at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT on Friday, 24 November, in Singapore. After all, both talents are young, aggressive, and known to constantly push the pace.
However, a series of illegal blows to the back of Mujtaba’s head stopped the match in the opening minutes of round one, and ultimately resulted in Li’s disqualification.
Once the bell rang to begin the match, Li charged at his opponent. “The Wolverine” landed with a clean counter right to get his offense underway, but his Chinese counterpart swarmed with hard shots in reply, looking to assert his dominance in the contest.
Mujtaba moved in for a takedown, but could not complete it on the experienced wrestler. Undeterred, he tried once more, but Li stuffed the shot again and began landing heavy hammer fists.
However, referee Olivier Coste stopped the contest as Mujtaba slumped to the canvas, with several of the strikes clearly landing to the illegal area at the back of the head.
The Pakistani hero was given time to try and recover, but was deemed unable to, and the referee had no choice but to show Li the red card and disqualify him.
That gave the fallen Mujtaba (9-1) the win, although no martial artist wants to win or lose in that manner.
Undefeated strawweight contender Tiffany “No Chill” Teo has ONE Championship gold in her sights, and is well placed to claim it.
On Friday, 24 November, in front of a packed hometown crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Teo defeated India’s Puja Tomar at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT via armbar in the first round.
Teo was obviously fired up with the hometown crowd behind her, but she showed a lot of early patience when Tomar tried to fire off a big overhand right. The Indian martial artist, however, struggled to close the distance against her much taller opponent
“No Chill” spent the majority of the opening stanza stalking Tomar around the cage, but it was not until there was less than two minutes remaining where she finally unleashed her arsenal. Teo attempted a head kick, leading to wild exchange on the feet before taking Tomar to the ground.
Once she was on the mat, Teo was in her element as she transitioned seamlessly from one submission attempt to the next until finally finding an opening for an armbar. She quickly latched onto the arm, dropped to her back, and extended the hips, which left Tomar with nowhere to go. The Indian was forced to tap out at 4:07 in the first round.
“No Chill” remains undefeated, and following the win, made it clear that she wants a chance to finally become a ONE World Champion.
“I want a shot at the strawweight title,” Teo said. “I hope my next bout will be for the title.”
It was another outstanding performance from Teo, who moved to 7-0 with the victory, and puts herself into a perfect position to challenge for the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title in 2018.
On Friday, 24 November, Japan’s Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi cemented her position as the top contender for Angela Lee’s ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title. The Japanese DEEP Jewels champion scored a dominant victory over the Philippines’ Gina “Conviction” Iniong at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT in Singapore.
Yamaguchi was originally scheduled to face Lee in the main event, but after the reigning world champion was forced off the card due to injury, “V.V.” instead faced former foe Iniong, who had beaten her via razor-thin split decision in a 2014 contest.
This time, Yamaguchi took the spoils, as she claimed the win via unanimous decision after three rounds of action.
The bout offered a fascinating clash of styles, with Iniong looking to keep things standing where she could use her wushu championship striking, and Yamaguchi looking to take things to the ground, where she could apply her signature ground and pound.
After some early pressure from Iniong, “V.V.” took the Filipina to the mat, pulling guard and switching to top position, where she scored with some powerful elbows from guard. However, an illegal upkick from Iniong halted the Japanese contender’s momentum, as referee Olivier Coste paused the action to allow her some time to recover.
It was a case of rinse and repeat for Yamaguchi in the second stanza, as she once again took the Filipino to the mat and maintained top position, landing strikes while constantly looking to advance position in search of a submission.
After initially working for an Americana armlock, Yamaguchi transitioned to mount, then into an arm-triangle choke. It seemed a submission was imminent, but the determined Iniong did just enough to fend off the attempt, and make it to the third round.
Iniong knew she needed to keep things standing in the final round to give her a chance of victory, and the Team Lakay product smartly avoided Yamaguchi’s attempt to pull guard once again as the round began.
With “Conviction” looking to find a home for her favored straight right, Yamaguchi showed composure and confidence of her own.
The Japanese contender remained standing and striking with the six-time Philippines wushu national champion, before taking her opponent to the mat and asserting her dominance once more as the bout went all the way to the judges.
The verdict handed Yamaguchi a clear victory — the 17th of her career — and paved the way for the Japanese contender to finally face Lee in the much-anticipated title rematch, perhaps when ONE returns to Singapore on 18 May.
Yamaguchi now sits at 17-10-1, while Iniong, who previously won at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD just a few weeks ago, falls to 6-3.
ONE Championship 65 Resutls:
Ben Askren def. Shinya Aoki via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:57
Amir Khan def. Adrian Pang via unanimous decision
Leandro Issa def. Dae Hwan Kim via unanimous decision
May Ooi def. Vy Srey Khouch via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:58
Li Kai Wen def. Ahmed Mujtaba via disqualification (illegal strikes)
Tiffany Teo def. Puja Tomar via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:07
Mei Yamaguchi def. Gina Iniong via unanimous decision
Arnaud Lepont def. Richard Corminal via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:16
Muhammad Aiman def. Yang Fei via unanimous decision
Miao Li Tao def. Sim Bunsrun via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:49