SINGAPORE—Win, lose or draw; Ben Askren will end a stellar career at ONE: Immortal Pursuit in a battle against Japan’s legendary grappler Shinya Aoki at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Friday evening. (The fight between Askren and Aoki as well as the undercards were ongoing as we went to press.)
The undefeated Askren—considered the best in the world in his weight class—walks away from the cage after winning welterweight titles both in ONE Championship and Bellator.
“I plan to retire on a high note. When I turned professional I had a game plan. The great fight champions always had two things in common. They always stay too long. They always end up broke. That has always been my game plan. Don’t stay too long. Don’t end up broke,” said Askren.
“I said from day one that I am the best in the world at what I do, and this is what I am going to do every single time. I have been saying that since I started my career, and I believe it more strongly than ever because I have proven it 17 times now.”
Askren represented the USA in the Olympics at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2009 he won the FILA World Grappling Championship in the 84 kg no-gi division.
After turning to professional MMA he captured the Bellator Welterweight Championship where he was unbeaten in nine fights. He joined ONE Championship late 2013. He defeated Nobutatsu Suzuki for the ONE Welterweight World Championship in April 2015. He has been dominant in three successful title defenses since.
“Shinya is a really good opponent. Obviously, he is a legend of the sport, and he is a really big challenge on the ground, which is where I like to compete, personally. I am excited for this bout. He is a grappler and has a great skill set that I respect, so I think it will be a great battle,” said Askren.
Aoki is one of the world’s most decorated MMA athletes. He was the DREAM Lightweight Champion, former Shooto Welterweight Champion, and the former ONE Lightweight World Champion. He is called the Grand Master of Flying Submissions because of his electrifying finishes.
“Ben Askren is a spectacular martial artist. He is an athlete that I really respect. He has his own goal for his career, and I have mine as well. I am here to win another belt in ONE Championship and redeem myself in front of the world. I want to win again. I am not satisfied yet. I am very determined to win this next bout of mine. I never turn down a match. I am here to face the best,” said Aoki.
The 34-year-old Aoki holds a black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has won multiple grappling tournaments all over the world. He is considered one of the best pure grapplers in professional martial arts competition today.
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