Former Bellator title holder Ben Askren (13-0 MMA) will attempt to dethrone current ONE FC welterweight champion Nobutatsu Suzuki (11-1-2) at this weekends “ONE FC 19: Reign of Champions” event in Dubai. The welterweight showdown is a true clash of styles, pitting Askren’s elite grappling abilities against Suzuki’s high-level Karate striking.
The former US Olympian and undefeated MMA fighter recently spoke with BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor about his upcoming fight with Suzuki, as well as his future plans in the sport of mixed martial arts. Here is what “Funky” had to say:
Taylor: In just a few days time you will challenge Nobutatsu Suzuki for his ONE FC Welterweight World Title. Tell me what you know about your opponent and what it will take to defeat him on August 29 in Dubai?
Askren: He is a good striker, but like the other 13 opponents I have faced, he will be no match for my grappling.
Taylor: You have scored finishes over your last 3 opponents, two by way of technical knockout and your latest being a first-round submission in your ONE FC debut. Prior to that you had reeled off six-straight decision victories. What can you attribute your recent success in finishing fights towards?
Askren: Skills! It took me time to build skills. The last time I did not finish a fight was against Douglas Lima and that fight was just 3 years into my career. Prior to starting MMA I had never done any striking art or BJJ. It took me a while to get better at them, but now being proficient, it is a lot easier to finish fights.
Taylor: If you are successful in your attempt to dethrone Suzuki, who would you like to face next under the ONE FC banner?
Askren: Not sure, I’m happy to face anyone.
Taylor: You are training at both Roufusport and Evolve MMA. Can you talk a little about training at both gyms and how it has made you a better fighter?
Askren: Both gyms come with a wealth of experience and I think both gyms rank among the very best in the world. I get a lot of different looks for people who are good at everything by training both places. It really allows me to add to my skill set.
Taylor: I saw you at July’s “TUF 19 Finale” in Las Vegas. Do you think there is potential to work with the UFC down the road? Or has UFC president Dana White completely burned that bridge with you?
Askren: I’m in the air about this. However, I have to say that I am really happy with ONE FC at the moment so I’m not thinking about any other organizations.
Taylor: What are the chances that you would be willing to compete for a different U.S. based promotion once your contract with ONE FC is over?
Askren: None, I’m happy and very comfortable here with ONE FC and I’m looking to stay on for a long long time.
Taylor: You have had as many “call-outs” as any fighter in recent memory. If you could face any fighter who has called you out in the past who would it be and why?
Askren: I’m happy to fight any one of them.
Taylor: Your training partner Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is coaching Season 20 of the Ultimate Fighter. Did you partake in any of the coaching/training and development of the competitors on the show?
Askren: I helped with a couple practices when I was in Vegas over the 4th of July weekend. The girls were awesome, I was very impressed by their skill level and maturity.
Taylor: Thanks again for the time Ben. Any last words from “Funky” for your fans, sponsors or future opponent?
Askren: Nope. Just tune in August 29.
Be sure to catch Ben Askren challenge Nobutatsu Suzuki for the ONE FC Welterweight Championship on August 29 live from the Dubai World Trade Centre in the United Arab Emirates.
The entire event streams as an online pay-per-view in North America and can be ordered by clicking this link.
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