It didn’t take long for former Bellator champion Ben Askren to get to the top of the mountain in the ONE FC promotion. He maintained his perfect record with an impressive beat down of defending champion Nobutatsu Suzuki at ONE FC 19 in Dubai to claim the welterweight title. The noted striker’s worst-case scenario became a reality when Askren showcased his exceptional wrestling skills by taking Suzuki to the mat seconds into the bout. He would continue to control and pummel Suzuki with ground-and-pound strikes until the contest was finally halted at the 1:24 mark.
Askren improved to 14-0 and picked up his fourth consecutive finish. He’s now 2-0 during his tenure with the Singapore-based promotion as he submitted Bakhtiyar Abbasov in his ONE FC debut. The trend of squash matches will likely continue for the 30-year old Askren as there is simply no one in the promotion who can deal with his elite skills.
Bellator elected to sever ties with Askren after a dominant nine-fight unbeaten run with the promotion. Former CEO Bjorn Rebney cited Askren’s grinding style as the main reason why they decided not to offer him a new deal. He made four successful title defenses including a lopsided unanimous decision win at Bellator 64 over current champion Douglas Lima. Askren ended up inking a multi-fight deal with ONE FC after the UFC decided not to offer him a contract.
Askren deserves to be fighting in the UFC but that goal may be tough to achieve given that President Dana White has never been a fan of his. Askren would definitely present a stiff test for most of the organization’s top 170 pound competitors. It’ll also be interesting to see whether Bellator, under the guidance of new President Scott Coker, will extend a future olive branch to try and lure Askren back.
For now, “Funky” will likely continue his dominance as a ONE FC champion and will continue to be recognized as the best fighter not currently competing in the sport’s No. 1 organization.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.