Ben Askren
Askren made Thani tap inside the first round. ONE Championship.


  • ONE welterweight champion easily defended his title in Singapore on Friday.
  • Askren urged middleweight Bigdash not to chicken out again.
  • Kadestam put his name in the frame for a title shot after knocking out Luis Santos.

Ben Askren made light work of Agilan Thani in defending his ONE Championship welterweight title at ONE's Dynasty of Heroes card before calling out Vitaly Bigdash and Zebaztian Kadestam.

Aksren, 32, maintained his unbeaten record in the cage and extended his record to 16-0 after dominating the Malaysian fighter and inflicting the first defeat of his young career.

The former Bellator champion is still regarded as one of the best welterweights in the world and controlled the contest with his flawless wrestling from the off. The end was near for Thani when Askren locked on an arm triangle chokehold, making him tap just two minutes and 20 seconds into the contest.

Prior to tonight, Askren had fought just twice since winning his title in 2014 and immediately made a beeline for one of the men who contributed to that spell on the sidelines in middleweight champion Bigdash – with the Russian refusing to agree to a champion versus champion match in 2016.

"Agilan saw an opportunity and took it, Bigdash ran like a chicken," Askren told a sell-out crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium after the final bell. "Here's the deal, Bigdash I need a dance partner on August 18 in Kuala Lumpur. Bigdash if you decide your busy, I'll take the Swedish man."

'The Swedish man' is Kadestam, who secured a huge win over Luis 'Sapo' Santos earlier on the card, knocking the Brazilian out in the third round with two devastating knees to the head.

Bigdash may already have another fight in place, however, although Askren says he gladly take on Kadestam before settling an old score with the middleweight champion later in the year.

He told reporters backstage: "I called out Bigdash but it looks like he has a fight booked. So if he is busy, I'll beat up the Swedish guy and I'll beat up Bigdash after.

But when asked if he had been impressed with Kadestam's knockout win over Santos, Askren wasn't in the mood to hand out praise. "I wasn't impressed at all. In the third round 'Sapo' had thought he had won and decided to take nap and got smashed by that knee. But round one and two, he really didn't get anything done, punches, kicks, takedowns, nothing."

Askren remains largely untested in a ONE Championship ring with his victory over Thani going exactly as he planned – albeit in slightly shorter time.

"I said three to four minutes [it would take to win] and it was two and a half so I wasn't far off, I know my abilities at this point. Maybe I should have laid off on that squeeze a little bit.

"When you ground and pound like that, lots of times the arm triangle opens itself up and that what happened."