Former Bellator MMA champ Ben Askren (12-0) will not be fighting for the 170-lbs title in his ONE FC debut after all.
Officials today announced that the 29-year-old Olympian will instead be involved in a tussle against fellow promotional newcomer, Bakhtiyar Abbasov (11-2). Match-ups including Bruno Pucci (3-0) vs. Martin Nguyen (3-0) at Featherweight, Jake Butler (3-1) vs. Pane Haraki (3-2) at Light Heavyweight and Caros Fodor (8-4) vs. Willy Ni (15-8) at 155-lbs were also disclosed by the promotion for its return to Singapore in May.
Ben Askren’s debut along with three match-ups set for ONE FC 16: Honor & Glory
ONE FC 16: Honor & Glory takes place May 30 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. As with previous events, the main card airs LIVE on Star Sports in Asia, and streams LIVE on an online pay-per-view for US$9.99.
Askren is a perfect 12-0 and a former title holder under the Bellator MMA banner. It was well documented over the past few months on how the UFC looked past the 29-year-old following his release from Bellator, and once he was without a home, Asia’s largest MMA organization, ONE FC, pounced on an exclusive contract. Askren is expected to split his time between gyms with Roufusport in the states, and Evolve MMA in Singapore.
Abbasov, 28, is also a recent signing set for his ONE FC debut on May 30. The Azerbaijan product is one of the hottest prospects coming out of those parts, with an impressive resume of 11 wins and just 2 losses. The former Sambo champ is on a nine-fight winning streak with an equal number of TKO and submission victories to his credit.
Submission ace Pucci is a native of Evolve MMA, who holds world-class No-Gi credentials in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After a 2-0 start to his career, he stopped Pakistan’s Bashir Ahmad in his ONE FC debut at ONE FC 10 last year, taking his total tally to 3-0. All three of the Brazilian’s victories have ended via submission.
KMA Top Team’s Martin Nguyen is one of Australia’s brightest prospects, who recently garnered BRACE’s 145-lbs strap in a first round TKO triumph over Luke Standing at BRACE 24. That win awarded him a contract with ONE FC, and now, the 25-year-old will look to stay undefeated when he competes on the largest stage in all of Asian MMA.
Evolve MMA’s Butler will look to put his wrestling pedigree to full effect once again in yet another striker vs. grappler match-up. After three straight first round finishes under the ONE FC banner to kick-start his pro MMA career, Butler suffered his first setback when he was stopped by Sylvain Potard at ONE FC 11.
Haraki, hasn’t competed in two years, but has racked up five pro bouts under his belt to date. He’s listed as a former Muay Thai champion and of the best 205-pounders from New Zealand.
Fodor was on the cusp of a title shot in ONE FC before striking extraordinaire Vuyisile Colossa outpointed the 30-year-old at ONE FC 13. A former Strikeforce vet, Fodor linked up with ONE FC after a 0-2 run in the UFC. The AMC Pankration disciple is 2-3 in his past five outings.
Once an owner of a remarkable 15-2 run, Holland’s Willy Ni now subsides in a six-fight losing skid. After a bright start, he came up short against Vincent Latoel in his ONE FC debut last year, which also marked his first pro MMA fight in over four years. Ni currently plies his trade at the famed Mike’s Gym, alongside Melvin Manhoef among many others.
“After months of anticipation, ONE FC will return to Singapore with another explosive night of world-class mixed martial arts action,” said Victor Cui, CEO of ONE FC. “Fans around the world have been eagerly awaiting the ONE FC debut of top welterweight, Ben Askren. He faces the toughest test of his career when he goes up against another top welterweight, Bakhtiyar Abbasov. ONE FC is redefining the mixed martial arts landscape and close to 12,000 fans will pack out the arena to witness history at ONE FC: HONOR & GLORY!”
With the additions, the current ONE FC 16: Honor & Glory line-up now includes:
- Ben Askren vs. Bakhtiyar Abbasov
- Caros Fodor vs. Willy Ni
- Jake Butler vs. Pane Haraki
- Bruno Pucci vs. Martin Nguyen