Funky Ben Askren returned to Manila last night to face Russian contender Nikolay Aleksakhin in a non-title headline fight at ONE: Global Rivals, the promotions 41 show.
Aleksakhin failed to make weight for the planned title defense, but a highly entertaining five-round went ahead as planned for fans inside the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
After five grueling rounds which saw Askren throw spinning back fists in addition to an impressive, smothering ground game, the welterweight world champ secured a unanimous decision win over his at times impressive Russian opponent.
Askren now moves to 15-0-1, with three wins under the ONE Championship banner. Aleksakhin drops to 17-4 in his MMA career.
In the co-main event, Team Lakay’s Geje Eustaquio completely outclassed top Malaysian prospect Gianni Subba in an exciting three-round bout in front of Eustaquio’s home crowd in Manila.
Eustaquio kept Subba at bay all night at the end of his lightning fast kicks and sharp counterpunching. Subba could not get his offense going as Eustaquio dominated from end-to-end to earn the unanimous decision.
Lightweight standout Lowen Tynanes of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, defeated highly-regarded Japanese veteran Koji “The Commander” Ando by unanimous decision in a gruelling contest. Tynanes used his superior wrestling skills to control the action in the cage, while also getting the better of Ando in the stand-up with his powerful leg kicks and straight right hand. After three rounds, Ando couldn’t amount to much as Tynanes ran away with the judges’ nod.
Filipino-Australian fighter Reece “Lightning” McLaren showed the world that he is an absolute force to be reckoned with by dominating combat sambo world champion Muin Gafurov over three rounds.
McLaren completely shut down Gafurov with his impeccable mat and cage control, displaying a high-level grappling game that Gafurov had no answer for. McLaren won a unanimous decision in a very technical affair.
A memorable lightweight contest ensued between Filipino combatants Honorio “The Rock” Banario and Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre.
Banario dominated the striking exchanges, landing right hands over the top frequently and with good, solid power. The former featherweight champion also controlled action on the ground, almost finishing the fight with an armbar submission, showcasing his improved grappling.
In an intense, crowd-pleasing fight, Martin Nguyen and China’s Li Kai Wen brought fans up to their feet with a display of fierce and explosive striking exchanges.
The two fighters unloaded on each other from the opening bell. As they traded blows, Li dropped Nguyen with a punch but Nguyen was able to withstand the damage and recover. Once on the ground, Nguyen’s superiority showed as he was able to control Li’s back and finish the fight with punches from the top.
Catchweight Super Fight (85.3kg)
Ben Askren defeats Nikolay Aleksakhin
Geje Eustaquio defeats Gianni Subba
Lowen Tynanes defeats Koji Ando
Reece McLaren defeats Muin Gafurov
Honorio Banario defeats Vaughn Donayre
Martin Nguyen defeats Li Kai Wen
TKO (Strikes) at 4:44 minutes of round 1
Catchweight bout (57.4kg)
Joshua Pacio defeats Rabin Catalan
TKO (Strikes) at 3:19 minutes of round 2
Women’s Atomweight bout
April Osenio defeats Natalie Gonzales Hills
Submission (Armbar) at 3:23 minutes of round 1
Catchweight bout (67.3kg)
Sunoto defeats Burn Soriano
TKO (Strikes) at 3:50 minutes of round 1
Danny Kingad defeats Muhamad Haidar
TKO (Strikes) at 2:20 minutes of round 1