The reigning and defending ONE Championship welterweight titleholder kept his undefeated record intact after making quick work of Agilan Thani at the promotion's Dynasty of Heroes event held in Singapore on May 26. The two-time Div I national champion wrestler and former Olympian employed his signature wrestling-heavy attack to which the incoming title challenger had zero answers for.
Once the action hit the canvas it was only a matter of time before Askren broke his opposition, and a tap to an arm triangle choke midway through the first notched a successful title defense for the University of Missouri alum. Askren's performance in Singapore was clean, quick and funky--just the way he prefers--and the champion wasted no time setting his sights on the next target(s) on his radar.
The former Bellator and current ONE Championship welterweight king wants to handle another order of business in his own division in the form of Zebaztian Kadestam on August 18, before stepping out of the 170-pound lane for some super fight action against current middleweight champion Vitaly Bigdash to close out the year.
The Wisconsin native had been planning to settle a long standing score with Luis "Sapo" Santos as well, but Kadestam knocked out the Brazilian in their fight on the same night Askren submitted Thani in the co-main event.
"My original plan was to beat Thani and then call out Santos to settle that business and then call out Bigdash as well, but after Kadestam knocked him out that took care of him," Askren told FloCombat. "Bigdash jumped into a rematch with [Aung] La Nsang and Kadestam is healthy so let's get that because I plan on having a busy year.
Askren turned his sights to Kadestam, picked a date for Aug. 18 in Malaysia and is simply waiting for the contracts to get signed and make it official.
"I had no idea who [Kadestam] was but then he fought in the fight before me and knocked out 'Sapo' Santos and that was entertaining because that guy is such a douchebag," Askren told FloCombat. "That win earned him some instant credibility because they loved the knockout in Asia and he has so momentum so let's just go ahead with it. Everyone is healthy and let's get this done."
And while Santos may not be in aligned in Askren's perspective, the long standing beef between the two fighters could have prompted Askren to stay on course. Yet, the reigning titleholder ultimately chose mercy over insult to injury.
"Once Sapo was unconscious I figured I might as well leave him alone and get onto the next fight," Askren said.
With Bigdash already having a fight slated on the current schedule, and Askren believes there's no point in knocking on that door just yet. In his mind, Bigdash already knows the rough night that's coming his way in the near future therefore he'll take things out on the Swedish fighter instead.
"When Bigdash signed on for the other fight I figured I would jump in and knock another one off as well in the meantime," Askren said. "I know I'm not going to get hurt and I'll put this one in the books and can be ready in another six weeks after that. I'll be ready whenever they need me and just keep knocking them down.
"I walk around just a touch over 185 and barely even have to diet to get to that mark. I'd be willing to go up some weight for him. He did originally sign to fight me in my weight class and decided that was a bad idea or who knows? I'd be willing to compromise and give him a couple of kilograms so that way he has no excuses."
Although the bout with Kadestam has yet to be made official Askren has confidence the bout will be booked for Aug. 18. Furthermore, Askren is also holding true to making the 2017 campaigned he envisioned with a steady stream of fights materialize in the coming months.
The way he sees it everything is aligned for him to face Kadestam and Bigdash in back-to-back quick turns, and Askren promises to do his part to bringing both bouts to fruition.
"I told ONE I wanted to fight three or four times this year and my first one of 2017 was at Dynasty of Heroes and it broke most of the promotion's records," Askren said. "I want to keep the momentum going and I'm already back in the gym training. The event on Aug. 18 is in Malaysia and all the bosses at ONE say this thing is a go. I'm excited to get this thing put on paper and get rolling.
"I'll get that one out of the way and then I'll fight Bigdash next. That sounds like a great plan to me and let's make it happen."
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