‘I am going to punch you until the referee tells me to stop’: Ben Askren’s warning ahead of his One Championship title fight
The American appears on the organisation’s One: Dynasty of Heroes card in Singapore alongside Angela Lee next Friday
Ben Askren has a message he likes to send out to anyone casting an envious eye on the crown he wears as both the king of One Championship’s welterweight division and the dominant male mixed martial arts fighter in Asia.
“This is how it goes,” says the man also known as Funky. “When we fight, first they’ll lock the cage door. The referee will say ‘fight’. I’m going to walk across the ring and I’m going to grab you. I’m going to throw you on your back and I am going to punch you until the referee tells me to stop. And that’s it. Over.”
Take that as less a warning and more a statement of intent from the American as he prepares to put his belt on the line in the co-main event against Malaysian Agilan “Alligator” Thani on the One: Dynasty of Heroes card in Singapore next Friday night.
“I feel just the same as I have before every fight I have had – great,” says the 32-year-old, caught at home in Wisconsin before making the flight to Asia. “I’ve been working hard and now it’s just a matter of fine-tuning. I’ll get there, I’ll rest a bit, and I’m ready.”
Askren has established himself among the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet thanks to an MMA record that currently stands at 15-0, with one no contest.
He brought a lauded wrestling career with him to the sport, having been named a NCAA Division I All-American while at the University of Missouri, before heading to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Since signing on with the Singapore-based One organisation at the end of 2013, he’s been pretty much untouchable, too, lighting up the cage with three victories.
The no-content came via an unintentional eye poke when Askren was up against Luis Santos back in April 2015, otherwise he’s carved his way past his opponents both on the mat (arm triangle submission over Bakhtiyar Abbasov), above it (TKO via strikes to take the title from Nobutatsu Suzuki) and all parts in between (unanimous decision over Nikolay Aleksakhin).
Askren has been out of the cage since that victory over the Russian Aleksakhin in Manila back in April last year, but he’s been kept busy both as one of the major stars on the One roster, appearing cage side at other events and at promotional activities, and working away with his brother back home in Wisconsin, where they run a chain of wrestling academies.
While the travelling and the training has been fun, Askren says there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
“I’m just excited to fight again and hopefully One Championship can keep me really busy this year because I’m just looking to get a bunch of fights,” says Askren. “I can keep myself occupied with my businesses, I can train five or six times a week – and I love doing all of that. But when I am preparing for a fight it’s 10, 11 or 12. That intensity of training is like nothing else. And I love to fight. I wouldn’t be talking to you now if that wasn’t the case.”
The match up against Thani pits Askren against one of Asia’s rising stars – at 21 years old with a 7-0 record that includes five first-round victories, and two that came in round two, it seems the kid doesn’t like to hang around.
Askren, as is his wont, promises fireworks. “He’ll know what my plan is – I let every opponent know,” says Askren. “Like I told you just before, it’s freaking simple and it’s worked every time.”