Sun, Apr 26, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Ben Askren-Luis Santos bout ends in no contest

By Adrian Hardie  /  Staff reporter

Brazil’s Luis Santos, top, and Ben Askren of the US fight during their ONE Championship bout in Pasay City, Philippines, on Friday.

Photo: EPA

A highly anticipated ONE Championship main event welterweight bout between undefeated “Funky” Ben Askren and Luis Santos began with fireworks, but ended in a disappointing no contest in Pasay City, Philippines, on Friday night after Santos was accidentally thumbed in the eye and was unable to continue.

Brazil’s Santos (61-9-1) had been expected to give Askren (14-0-0) his biggest test, and was doing just that, giving Askren all he could handle, until referee Olivier Coste was forced to waive the fight only 2 minutes, 19 seconds into the first round.

Former US Olympic wrestler Askren’s modus operandi in every fight is to use his formidable takedowns and work his ground-and-pound.

“I don’t think there’s a person in the world that likes to be put on their back and punched in their face, against their will, and that’s going to be Luis Santos,” Askren said going into the fight.

Askren began going for takedowns from the opening bell, but Santos demonstrated spectacular takedown defense, stuffing Askren’s first attempt and following with knees and head kicks, then reversing Askren’s next attempt with a judo-style throw.

Santos repeated that feat on Askren’s next attempt. Askren made his feet and landed two solid right hands, but Santos answered with a leg-kick that briefly knocked Askren down.

Askren attempted another takedown, and again Santos reversed it with a throw.

Askren then finally scored his first takedown, but the action was halted immediately afterward as Santos clutched his right eye.

There was some initial confusion, with Santos indicating he had been thumbed, but Coste refusing to believe him and asking for a video review, which clearly showed the thumb. Santos was given five minutes to recover, but was unable to continue and the bout was ruled a no contest.

Somewhat improbably, Askren appeared to accuse Santos of faking the injury to end a fight the Brazilian had been winning.

“This is embarrassing,” Askren said in his post-fight interview, before calling for a rematch. “I’d heard that he comes on strong, then he looks for a way out. It’s too bad he chose this way out... It was ridiculous. It was terrible.”

In the co-main event, rising Philippine-American star Mark “Mugen” Striegl had a triumphant Manila homecoming as he made his ONE debut by handing American Casey Suire his first loss.

Striegl went into the fight having won 11 of his 13 wins by submission, 10 by chokes, and after a bout initially marred by a low blow and in which Suire survived a number of early choke attempts, Striegl was able to take the American’s back and sink his rear naked choke to finish the fight at 3 minutes, 48 seconds into the first round.

Striegl admitted to feeling extra pressure fighting before a home crowd, but said that pressure gave him the extra motivation he needed to defeat a tough opponent.

The win improves Striegl’s record to 14-1-0, while Suires fell to 5-1-0.

On the undercard, Thailand’s Anatong Bunrad notched a closely fought split-decision victory over the Philippines’ Geje Eustaquio, while an all-Filipino battle saw Edward Kelly choke out Jimmy Yabo in the first round and Singapore’s Amir Khan scored a third-round TKO of Pakistan’s Bashir Ahmad.

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