After eight years as a professional mixed martial artist, undefeated ONE Championship welterweight titleholder Ben Askren will be hanging up his gloves for good to assume a new role with the company. But before he does, he will take on one of the top fighters the Asian MMA promotion has ever had, Shinya Aoki. This veritable grappler’s delight match will occur at ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit in Singapore on November 24.
The news was announced by ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong on Facebook.
Currently the ONE Championship welterweight champion, Ben Askren (17-0) is still unbeaten more than nine years into his professional career. The former Bellator champion also stands at No. 6 in the latest MMA welterweight rankings. A Div I wrestling champion, 2008 Olympian in wrestling, Askren is, along with Fedor Emelianenko, one of the great fighters to never compete in the UFC. He has maintained for years that he was perfectly content fighting in ONE, and that is where his career will end.
The “Funky” was last in action at Saturday’s historic ONE Championship 60 even in Shanghai, manhandling Swedish challenger Zebaztian Kadestam (9-4) en route to a second-round TKO finish. Askren is now 5-0 under the ONE Championship banner.
When he’s not fighting, Askren also has an active coaching career working with many of the fighters at Duke Roufus’ academy in Milwaukee, Wis., as well as his own wrestling programs.
Aoki (39-7, 1 no-contest) will compete at welterweight for the second time in his career, eight years after losing to Hayato Sakurai at the DREAM welterweight tournament. The Japanese star holds a 5-1 record under the ONE banner. Aoki last saw action last November when he fought Filipino veteran Eduard Folayang for the ONE Championship lightweight strap. Aoki dropped the title via third round TKO, which also marked his first loss in four years.
Aoki is one of the greatest grapplers in the history of mixed martial arts. A lifelong Judo, Aoki developed an interest in Kosen Judo, which, like Jiu-Jitsu, places a greater emphasis on ground fighting. He earned a black belt in BJJ from Yuki Nakai, and is an A-class Shoot wrestler.
Sityodtong also announced a rematch between strawweight champion Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi, who meet again a little over a year after the first bout, a five-round classic that ended with Lee taking the title from the Japanese veteran.
Lee (8-0) has already fought twice in 2017, defending the belt with a pair of finishes against Jenny Huang and Istela Nunes, while Yamaguchi (16-10-1) enters the title bout coming off a second-round submission victory over Huang.
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