Luis Santos has been around for a while. The Brazilian made his pro debut 15 years ago and is a 72 fight veteran but he can never have experienced a storm of controversy quite as intense as the one that raged following the controversial ‘no contest’ against Ben Askren.

It was the biggest fight of Santos’ career and it could hardly have started any better for the striking specialist. He repeatedly stuffed Askren’s takedown attempts and unquestionably got the better of the two minutes and 19 seconds the welterweights spent competing in the cage.

Luis Santos Battle of Lions


Unfortunately for the challenger he was denied the opportunity to see if he could dominate Askren for a more prolonged period of time, something no previous opponent had managed to do, by an unfortunate eye poke. Debate has rages as to whether or not the champion thrust his fingers into the Brazilian’s eye on purpose but Santos’ stance on the subject is clear.

“I’ve watched the fight many times and I think it was intentional. He poked me in the eye extremely hard and I was in pain, I couldn’t see.”

Askren was questioned this interpretation of events and even went as far as to accuse ‘Sapo’ of looking for a way out. The American claimed in an interview that his opponent was exhausted and decided to quit which has not gone down too well with Santos.

“Getting tired in two minutes? I’ve trained for three months to get tired in two minutes? I think he talks too much, if had poked him in the eye see if he would continue.”

In fact Askren’s trash talking seems to have upset Santos. Neither man had too much to say for themselves in the buildup to the first fight but things have taken a turn for the acrimonious as they prepare for the rematch which will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night.

Ahead of their ONE: ‘Pride of Lions main event matchup Santos had some strong words for the reigning ONE 170 lbs champion.

“He is a clown, he just promotes himself talking shit, complete nonsense. I didn’t find any strengths in his game and he’s not going to change his game, he’s just going to fight the same way. I’m well prepared to face him I’m 100% confident.”

Helping Santos prepare for the Novemebr 13th showdown is a surprising training partner. His wife, Carina Damm, is a 34 fight MMA veteran who also holds a black belt in BJJ and has been helping him prepare for Askren.

“It is a pleasure to train with her because she is a high level black belt, she got second place in the worlds. She’s competitive and doesn’t play around, training with her every day is easy because she understands my goals and what I want to achieve.”

Luis Santos

Beating Askren would not just be the biggest achievement of Santos’ long career, it would also be the most dramatic MMA upset of the year. Despite his good showing in the first fight Sapo is still a 4/1 underdog which reflects a belief among the bookmakers, who seldom get this sort of stuff wrong, that Askren is simply unbeatable.

Having successfully stuffed Askren’s takedowns for half a round, as well as landing a knee and executing a textbook Judo toss, Santos is entitled to feel aggrieved that his is still such a huge underdog. It’s a narrative he must have come accustomed to over the course of the last 12 months and one he is determined to change.

“It doesn’t matter how but I will be champion. On 13 November we’re going to write a new story.”