Reigning ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren appeared to be in for a hard night against Luis Santos. The Brazilian repeatedly stuffed his takedown attempts in the opening moments of their title fight at ONE: Valor of Champions at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Friday night (local time).
Askren’s takedown attempts were stuffed repeatedly by the Brazilian, who was able to hit the switch and end up in top position on a couple of occasions, notably when the former U.S. Olympian tried to grab a single leg after taking a knee to the midsection.
If previous Askren fights have taught us anything, it is that he always finds a way to win. The American was digging deep until the moment came that ensured that the ONE: Valor of Champions card would always be shrouded in controversy.
Askren jabbed towards Santos’ face with an open hand. In the process, he poked Santos in the eye before shooting for a double-leg takedown, which he completed. The referee spotted it and paused the fight, but there was some confusion as he struggled to find a translator to help him communicate with ‘Sapo.’
The Brazilian was given plenty of time to recover, but repeatedly told his corner he was unable to see out of the damaged eye, causing the fight to be rendered a no contest. The stoppage came at 2:22 of round one. Askren moves to 14-0-0-1, while Santos’ record now stands at 61-9-1-1.
In the co-main event, making his promotional debut, Mark Striegl did exactly what he does best, taking Casey Suire down and attacking relentlessly with submission attempts before a rear naked choke finally brought the tap at 3:48 of round one.
The previously undefeated Suire put up admirable resistance after being taken down by Striegl and was able to escape from several adverse positions on the ground, but was powerless to prevent the Filipino from scoring the twelfth submission win of his career.
Striegl slipped his left forearm under Suire’s chin and adjusted the position slightly to grip his bicep, which finally broke his opponent’s resistance and forced the tap. The win takes him to 14-1 overall, while the American drops to 5-1 after his first career defeat.
There was some controversy in the flyweight fight between Geje Eustaquio (6-4) and Anatpong Bunrad (5-1), which was a close affair fought almost exclusively on the feet. Both men appeared to be pacing themselves, but it was the Filipino who pushed forwards and landed the more telling blows.
Bunrad landed hard kicks to the body and head, but seemed to be slightly outworked by Eustaquio. However, two of the three judges saw it differently; with the Thai fighter taking a controversial and highly debatable split-decision win.
The most impressive performance of the night came from China’s Xiao Yang Liu (2-2), who knocked out Nick Lee (3-3) with a perfectly timed overhand right that left the Singaporean flyweight out cold for several minutes.
There was also a big win for Eugene Toquero (7-1), who dominate Brianata Rosadhi (1-2) on the ground until putting him away with a barrage of elbows at 3:41 of round one. Up-and-coming Singaporean featherweight Amir Khan (3-1) also did his burgeoning reputation no harm with a third-round TKO win over tough Pakistani Bashir Ahmad (3-2), with an elbow opening up a cut that caused the fight to be stopped at 3:20 of round three.
ONE: Valor of Champion Full Results
- Ben Askren vs. Luis Santos ruled a No Contest due to Accidental Eye Poke at 2:22, R1
- Mark Striegl def. Casey Suire by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:48, R1
- Anatpong Bunrad def. Geje Eustaquio by Split Decision
- Eugene Toquero def. Brianata Rosadhi by TKO (Strikes) at 3:41, R1
- Edward Kelly def. Jimmy Yabo by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:05, R1
- Amir Khan def. Bashir Ahmad by TKO (Doctor Stoppage) at 3:20, R2
- Liu Xiao Yang def. Nicholas Lee by Knockout at 1:59, R1
- Wang Ya Wei def. Sunoto by TKO (Strikes) at 1:21, R3
(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)