Ben Askren: I owe Filipino fans

Fans in the Philippines will witness all the action live as ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren (14-0) returns to defend his title against hard-charging Russian opponent Nikolay Aleksakhin (17-3) at the Mall of Asia Arena on April 15 for ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS.

A former NCAA Division I All-American, Askren is a collegiate wrestling legend and one of the finest mixed martial artists in the world today.

In just a few fights in ONE, Askren was able to seize the ONE Welterweight World Championship with a resounding technical knockout victory over Nobutatsu Suzuki.

The highly-skilled Askren is widely considered to be the absolute best in his division and one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound.

Veteran welterweight from Russia, Aleksakhin will make his highly-anticipated return to the ONE Championship cage in Manila.

Aleksakhin was impressive in his debut for the promotion when he submitted Burenzorig Batmunkh with a rear naked choke within three rounds.

“When I’m in Asia for ONE Championship I am one of the few American fighters. I definitely feel a responsibility to represent America well because there are not a lot of other American fighters in ONE,” said Askren.

“I owe the Filipino fans. The last time I was in Manila obviously the bout didn’t have the outcome anyone wanted and my opponent was a lot less than courageous in faking his eye injury. The Filipino fans were unfairly robbed of a good fight. They lost the main event that night. I have to do an extra dominant job on April 15th to make sure the Filipino fans get a fight made up to them that they lost out on last year.”

Askren is also widely considered to be the best fighter in the world outside of the UFC, and he fully expects to handle Aleksakhin with ease.

“You can look in my eyes, I’m honestly 100% not concerned about anything Nikolay [Aleksakhin] brings to the table. He’s not an elite striker. I face strikers who are twice as good as him on a daily basis at practice. He is not as good of a wrestler as me. Hell, I’ll let him take me down! He can take me down all he wants because once we get on the ground he’s in my world,” said Askren.

Aleksakhin on the other hand, isn’t impressed with Askren’s credentials.

“Wrestling is [Ben Askren’s] one and only strength, he is a boring fighter to watch. He has a very weak striking technique, I would like to play on that. I am a showman, I like exciting fighters and want to win beautifully,” said Aleksakhin.

“It is the most important fight in my career, so far. To win against Ben Askren means to move a level up and to demonstrate it to the whole world.”

Askren and Aleksakhin are scheduled for a 5-round welterweight contest at ONE: GLOBAL RIVALS which takes place at the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines. The bout will be for the ONE Welterweight World Championship. – By Carlos Cinco

Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB