Ben Askren went the distance for the first time in three years at ONE: Global Rivals. Opponent Nikolay Aleksakhin had his moments at the Mall of Asia Arena, particularly in the third and fourth rounds, on Friday night (local time), but the American’s undefeated record never looked in serious jeopardy.
Askren subjected the Russian to a wrestling clinic. He took him down and kept him down. Aleksakhin spent virtually the entire opening round on his back and found himself in exactly the same position for the majority of the second stanza, as the American attacked with ground and pound from top position.
It looked set to be a long and thankless night for Aleksakhin in this five-round, non-title bout, but at the start of the third, he burst into life with a flurry of punches. A hard right hand knocked Askren’s mouthguard to the floor and, moments later, the Russian connected with a jab followed by a left uppercut, which brought a smile from the champion.
Aleksakhin was given further cause for encouragement when he stuffed a subsequent takedown, although an unfortunate slip left him in the familiar position of being on his back with Askren on top. The reigning ONE welterweight champion stayed there for the remainder of the round, landing some elbows from half guard and then some knees from the north-south position.
At the start of the fourth, Aleksakhin enjoyed more success with his striking and tagged the American with a headkick as he was shooting for a takedown. Askren was knocked backwards and the Russian briefly found himself in mount, but sensibly elected to get back to his feet and try and engage the champion in another stand-up exchange.
It was no surprise when Askren succeeded in getting the fight down again, but an increasingly confident Aleksakhin swept the former Bellator champion as he tried to move from half guard into mount. He wasted no time in getting to his feet again and the round finished with the American attempting an ambitious spinning back fist, which missed by some distance.
At this stage, Askren was well ahead on the scorecards, but with a round remaining, Aleksakhin seemed to have some momentum behind him. Unfortunately for the Russian, he was unable to stuff his opponent’s takedowns in the final five minutes and spent the closing stages of the fight on his back eating punches and defending submission attempts.
With 20 seconds remaining, Aleksakhin sprung to his feet and went looking for an unlikely knockout, but Askren easily evaded his strikes to seal a clear-cut decision win. All three judges scored the fight in favor of the American, who improved to 15-0-0-1, while his opponent dropped to 17-4.
Askren’s welterweight title was not on the line as Aleksakhin was unable to keep his walking weight low enough to abide by ONE Championship’s new weight-cutting regulations. Under the recently introduced rules, all welterweights are required to pass a series of checks proving that they weigh no more than 185 pounds.
In the co-main event, Geje Eustaquio showcased some devastating Wushu skills to earn a unanimous decision win over Gianni Subba. The Malaysian looked bereft of ideas as the former flyweight title challenger repeatedly tagged him with punches and body kicks in this bantamweight match-up.
In the lightweight division, Lowen Tynanes (9-0) might well have earned a title shot with a one-sided decision win over Koji Ando (12-5-2), but bantamweight Muin Gafurov (10-1) saw his undefeated record spoiled by Reece McLaren (9-3), who was awarded the victory by all three judges.
ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS Full Results
- Catchweight Super Fight (85.3kg): Ben Askren def. Nikolay Aleksakhin by Unanimous Decision
- Bantamweight bout: Geje Eustaquio def. Gianni Subba by Unanimous Decision
- Lightweight bout: Lowen Tynanes def. Koji Ando by Unanimous Decision
- Bantamweight bout: Reece McLaren def. Muin Gafurov by Unanimous Decision
- Lightweight bout: Honorio Banario def. Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous Decision
- Featherweight bout: Martin Nguyen def. Li Kai Wen by TKO (Strikes) at 4:44 minutes of round 1
- Catchweight bout (57.4kg): Joshua Pacio def. Rabin Catalan by TKO (Strikes) at 3:19 minutes of round 2
- Atomweight bout bout: April Osenio def. Natalie Gonzales Hills by Submission (Armbar) at 3:23 minutes of round 1
- Catchweight bout (67.3kg): Sunoto def. Burn Soriano by TKO (Strikes) at 3:50 minutes of round 1
- Flyweight bout: Danny Kingad def. Muhamad Haidar by TKO (Strikes) at 2:20 minutes of round 1
(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter | Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)