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Undefeated mixed martial arts welterweight Ben Askren of the US will make his highly anticipated ONE FC debut in Singapore
Undefeated mixed martial arts welterweight Ben Askren of the US will make his highly anticipated ONE FC debut in Singapore on May 30. AFP

ONE FC set for Singapore return

Asia’s leading mixed martial arts organisation ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC), has confirmed its return to Singapore on May 30 for a blockbuster fightcard titled ONE FC: Honor & Glory.

In the main event at the Singapore Indoor Arena, undefeated welterweight and US collegiate wrestling legend Ben Askren will make his highly anticipated ONE FC debut against Azerbaijan’s Bakhtiyar Abbasov, who is currently riding a nine-fight winning streak.

Meanwhile, veteran lightweight Caros Fodor of the US takes on top Dutch prospect Willy Ni while American Jake Butler returns to action against New Zealand’s Pane Haraki.

“After months of anticipation, ONE FC will return to Singapore with another explosive night of world-class mixed martial arts action,” ONE FC CEO Victor Cui was quoting as saying in a press release.

“Fans around the world have been eagerly awaiting the ONE FC debut of top welterweight Ben Askren. He faces the toughest test of his career when he goes up against another top welterweight, Bakhtiyar Abbasov. ONE FC is redefining the mixed martial arts landscape and close to 12,000 fans will pack out the arena to witness history at ONE FC: Honor & Glory.”

Ben “Funky” Askren is a legend in collegiate wrestling with four All-American awards. He finished his wrestling career at the University of Missouri with a record of 153-8, winning 91 of those bouts with pins, third most in NCAA Division I history. He also wrestled in the US Olympics team in 2008 before transitioning to mixed martial arts in 2009.

The 29-year-old has since won 12 bouts in a row in dominating fashion, winning multiple championships and earning recognition as one of the best welterweights in the world.

Abbasov, meanwhile is Azerbaijan’s best mixed martial artist, having defeated the best in Europe before deciding to come to Asia in search of new challenges.

The balanced knockouts and submission victories on his 11-2 record is a testament to his versatility and predatory instincts, which will come in handy as he tries to become the first man in history to defeat Askren in an MMA bout. The 28-year-old has traditionally competed as a middleweight but has set his sights on the welterweight division at ONE FC.

Fodor (8-4) was one of the top lightweights in the California-based Strikeforce promotion, where he ran up an impressive record and was on course for a title shot. A Muay Thai champion and submission grappling champion, he has gone to battle with some of the best in the business and wants to introduce himself to fight fans in Singapore with a spectacular performance.

Ni (15-8) is a Shooto veteran from the Netherlands and has faced some of the best lightweights in Europe including British slugger Dan Hardy. He is especially proficient with his grappling skills, having finished nine of his opponents by submission.

He gets an opportunity to add another big name to his resume when he takes on the versatile and exciting Fodor.

Butler (3-1) has firmly established himself as one of the top light heavyweights in the division, having earned all of his victories by finishes. He possesses some of the best wrestling acumen in the sport having honed his skills as the captain of the Princeton wrestling team.

Butler has been unstoppable when he utilizes his signature wrestling techniques, but he has also improved his striking skills while training with Muay Thai world champions at Evolve MMA in Singapore.

Haraki is the best light heavyweight in New Zealand – a Muay Thai champion who has an arsenal of devastating kicks and elbows. He now gets an opportunity to shine on Asia’s largest stage and has a stiff test in front of him.

This is a classic match-up of striker against grappler and Haraki will be determined to ensure that the striker reigns supreme.

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