“Funky” Ben Askren has long been regarded as one of the best welterweights outside the UFC, and perhaps the best fighter outside the UFC period. Over the weekend, in the main event of ONE Championship’s stop in Shanghai, the seemingly unstoppable wrestling specialist added to that reputation with a lopsided mauling of Zebaztian Kadestam.
As it turns out, his ferocious TKO of Kadestam will go down as the second last fight of his career.
Shortly after Askren’s big win in Shanghai, ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong announced the details of his next fight, which will also be the last of his career. In this surprising retirement bout, Askren will take on a fellow grappling whiz in Japan’s Shinya Aoki.
This veritable grappler’s delight match will occur at ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit in Singapore on November 24. The card will also feature a massive rematch between ONE strawweight champ and burgeoning MMA superstar Angela Lee, and experienced challenger Mei Yamaguchi.
Askren will enter his retirement bout with Aoki with a sterling 17-0 record (with one no contest). Over the course of his impressive career, he has medalled in both Bellator and One Championship, defeating game opposition in Lyman Good, Jay Hieron, Douglas Lima, Karl Amoussou, Andrey Koreshkov and Nobutatsu Suzuki. With his fighting career concluded, Askren will take up an executive role with ONE Championship.
Aoki, meanwhile is, 39-7. In his last fight, he was upset by Filipino star Eduard Folayang, losing the ONE lightweight title in the process. Highlights of his dazzling career include defeats of Kazushi Sakuraba, Kamal Shalorus, Kotetsu “No Face” Boku, Antonio McKee, Rich Clementi, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen, Eddie Alvarez, Caol Uno, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, and many others. He has the opportunity to add another huge name to his list of victims – and reclaim ONE gold – this November.
Who do you think wins this compelling Ben Askren vs. Shinya Aoki welterweight title showdown?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/3/2017.