By Michael Bacos
The last time Ben Askren (14-0, 1 NC) was in the cage in April was the first time he didn’t leave with his hand raised in victory.
His fight against Luis “Sapo” Santos (61-9-1, 1 NC) ended in a no-contest due to a controversial eye-poke.
“I barely nicked him with my thumb,” said the ONE Welterweight champion. “It was a small eye-poke and he played it up way bigger than it was.”
Ben Askren defends ONE Welterweight championship in Singapore against Luis Santos on November 13
Askren gets another shot at Santos on November 13 in Singapore. Despite Santos successfully defending his takedowns, Askren feels he has his opponent figured out.
“The scouting report on him is that he starts fast and he fades fast,” Askren said. “I’m going to go in there and land a few punches to try to make my takedowns easier.”
ONE Championship bills itself as Asia’s largest sports media property. According to ONE CEO Victor Cui, Asian MMA fans want to see Askren lose because he fits the “loudmouth, arrogant American” stereotype.
Askren feels comfortable playing the “heel” role.
“I find it easy to play that role,” Askren said. “I understand my role. I understand what it is and I play it really well.”
The two-time NCAA Division I national champion is considered to be one of the best fighters outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Yet, UFC President Dana White and other promotion officials considered him too “inexperienced” to fight in the UFC.
Askren considers all of that in the past and has settled into his role at ONE.
“I don’t want to go too much into that situation. It’s in my past now. I’m just focused on what’s ahead.”