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The calm before the Askren-Santos 2 storm
by rick olivares
The long-awaited rematch between Ben Askren and Luis Santos is set to take place in Singapore on 13 November at ONE: PRIDE OF LIONS. And boy is that match expected to be brutal.
The Askren-Santos return bout was born after a controversial "eye-poke" by Askren ended the fight abruptly in Manila earlier this year.
During their first battle that took place last April 24, the undefeated Askren looked terribly outclassed by Santos who reversed three takedown maneuvers with superb takedowns of his own. Santos even sent Askren to the canvas with a leg sweep. The American looked amateurish as he lunged for the Brazilian’s legs three times as well but each time the challenger danced away.
However, it should be noted though that Askren wasn’t hurt nor was he in any trouble. In fact, he was on the offensive when the “eye poke” allegedly took place. Santos swears he got poked and has repeatedly said that he is unimpressed with the champion. Askren on the other hand, believes the Brazilian is full of excuses and is playing up the incident.
Incidentally, in Askren’s ONE FC debut, he also defeated Abbasov. He is out to seek not only a win but also redemption as many MMA analysts and fans believe he got the reprieve he needed as he was losing in the first round.
“What happened in Manila was the first time in my whole career that I didn’t go in the cage and beat the tar out of my opponent and get my hand raised. When I was in Manila in April, I planned on fighting till one of us couldn’t fight anymore. That’s what I plan to do on Nov 13,” Askren said in a video interview.
In my opinion, it was Askren’s first fight in three ONE FC matches where he was not in control. Certainly not during any time of the two minutes and 19 seconds of the first round. The videotape is inconclusive although it is possible that Santos got poked; unintentionally though. There is no reason for Santos not to push through. Santos was ahead on points for that round and was in control. I saw his ONE FC debut against Bakhtiyar Abbasov where the Brazilian, just as in the Askren match, was slippery, calculating, and strong. The end came for Abbasov with a knee to the ribs. The Azerbaijani waved to referee Yuji Shimada that he was done because of the injury. Good for him that he called time because Santos went for a soccer kick to his head.
Heading into the Askren bout, Santos had won seven straight matches to raise his overall MMA record to an astounding 61-9. If he says his vision was impaired then it is possible that he felt he was fighting with a disadvantage.
The American star, who currently totes a 14-0 (with one no contest), claimed the ONE title in the promotion’s Dubai event last year. He says remaining the champion in ONE FC is his top priority and is impressed with ONE Championship’s phenomenal market share in Asian Mixed Martial Arts.
“It [ONE Championship] is huge, really big. They’re number one in Asia and on every TV station. When I’m over in Singapore people stop me on the street and say, ‘Hey, you’re Ben Askren!’ It feels really weird because I’m over in a foreign land where I don’t feel like anyone should know me but they have such a huge distribution. Their goal is to sign the best fighters in the world, and when they signed me they got a top ten guy everybody was talking about,” he declared in an earlier interview.
While ONE FC is huge, the rematch, doesn’t need any pre-fight hype given the way the first meeting ended. For sure it is going to be promotion’s biggest and most explosive to date.