On Friday, April 15th, ONE Championship hosted its latest event with ONE Championship: Global Rivals, live from the Mall of Asia Arena in Manilla, Philippines. The main event saw the return of “Funky” Ben Askren, the former Bellator MMA and current ONE Championship welterweight title holder. Askren had not been seen in action for nearly a year, last fighting on April 24 2015 against Luis Santos, which ended in a No Contest due to an accidental eye poke. Askren and Santos were supposed to rematch in November, but Santos failed to make weight. How would Funky, a Roufusport fighter and decorated wrestler, look after so much time away from the cage?

His opponent for the evening, Nikolay Aleksakhin (17-3), a 25 year old Russian Sambo champ, was easily looking at the biggest fight of his career. The challenger would no doubt be looking to keep the fight standing, and stay away from Askren’s dangerous wrestling pedigree — but could he pull it off?

Check back come fight time for a live recap and full results!

MAIN CARD SUMMARY

Ben Askren (c) vs. Nikolay Aleksakhin

The main event would no longer be a title bout after Nikolay Aleksakhin missed weight according to ONE Championship’s new weight guidelines.

Round 1 — Askren ate a few shots early but quickly locked on to Aleksakhin and took him to the mat with a trip. Once down, Askren went to work with some short punches while Aleksakhin worked to get out of harm’s way. Askren would move to side control and look to trap his opponent’s arm, which he did briefly. The fight stayed on the mat for the round with Askren dropping elbows, adding knees, and looking for a sub. Towards the end of the round, an obviously winded Aleksakhin was a lot less active off his back, and Askren was able to add some solid knees and a lot of unanswered punches from the top. All Askren in round one.

Round 2 — Askren had a takedown stuffed early, and Aleksakhin then missed a spinning back kick. Askren tried a spinning back kick, slipped and fell. After that, Askren latched on and dragged him down. This time he was almost immediately in a crucifix position and began landing short punches and elbows. Aleksakhin would make it back to his feet, and try to keep it there, but to no avail. Askren would try for an arm in guillotine later in the round, and show some excellent transition work, while Aleksakhin would look more and more fatigued.

Round 3 — More of the same in the third as Aleksakhin looked to avoid spending the round on his back. While he did manage to pepper Askren with some hard shots, Askren was smiling throughout and soon imposed his will on the Russian fighter, taking him down and landing hard knees to the head.

Round 4 — Aleksakhin managed to land a huge knee off what looked like an attempted kick on Askren when Funky came in for a shoot, knocking Askren down. Askren grabbed onto a leg to survive, but Aleksakhin wound up on top. Askren would escape, and get back to the feet obviously dazed. Later in the round Aleksakhin would manage to get on top but Askren fended him off, though very dazed. Eventually Askren caught Aleksakhin with an upkick and the Russian fighter backed off forcing the ref to stand the action up. Aleksakhin landed a spinning back kick to the body but not clean. Askren still looked hurt but survived the round.

Rounf 5 — Aleksakhin tried in vain to prevent the takedown early. Askren couldn’t keep him down however, and they squared off again, Askren leading with a jab and no doubt looking for a chance to shoot. Soon enough, Askren would have him back down, taking the back and peppering him with punches while looking for a sub. Aleksakhin would power back to his feet, and with seconds to go in the round tried to throw a flying knee, knowing he needed a finish, but to no avail.

Ben Askren (c) def. Nikolay Aleksakhin by unanimous decision (non-title bout, Aleksakhin missed weight)

Geje Eustaquio vs. Gianni Subba

Round 1 — Plenty of action in the first in this evenly matched pairing. A good leg kick thrown by to open the action by Subba, and both fighters were liberal with the kicks throughout the round. Things slowed once the action became tied up against the fence, but Eustaquio was able to score some additional strikes from this position as the round wound down. And we went to a second.

Round 2 — Eustaquio with a high kick, missing, to start the round, which Subba replied to but couldn’t land either. An exchange of leg kicks followed, with Eustaquio getting the better of the exchange. The fighters continued to exchange on the feet in the second, with several high kicks (blocked) getting great reaction from the crowd. After early control from Eustaquio, Subba seemed to be controlling the cage by the midway mark of the round; he would slip just a few moments later, then eat a leg kick back on his feet, and find himself pressed up against the cage by Eustaquio. Breaking off the fence Eustaquio would finish the frame with a spinning back kick attempt.

Round 3 — Round three saw more great kicking exchanges and plenty of action that had the crowd cheering. Subba managed to open Eustaquio up as he began bleeding from the right side of his head, but that didn’t seem to affect him too much. Towards the end of the round, Eustaquio managed to score a takedown, but the fighters quickly got back up. Subba was work for a takedown of his own as the seconds ticked down in the round, but couldn’t land it. We’d go to the scorecards again.

Geje Eustaquio def. Gianni Subba by unanimous decision

Lowen Tynanes vs. Koji Ando

Round 1 — The round started with an exchange of leg kicks. Both fighters were in a feeling out period at that point, looking to find their range. Tynanes attempted to shoot but couldn’t land anything. More feeling out on the feet followed, with Ando looking to find range with his jab. Finally a flurry of action at the halfway mark led to a takedown for Tynanes, leaving him in top position and working to pass guard. Ando used a rubber guard effectively to keep him at bay, but Tynanes was able to land a number of rabbit punches to the ribs of his opponent. Tynanes worked to half guard with about a minute remaining, but couldn’t make anything happen.

Round 2 — More solid work from Tynanes, with Ando unable to get much going. He would attempt to counter several Tynanes attacks only to eat punches for his trouble and hit air on the return. Some clinch work later in the second slowed the pace, and with a minute left in the round the ref would restart the action, only to have the fighters simply circle until the bell sounded. It would go to a third.

Round 3 — Ando went back to leading with his jab early in the third but ate a big right from Tynanes for his efforts. Tynanes changed levels effectively and initiated a clinch along the cage wall, then worked for a takedown and mixed in some knees. Ando fought this off, but things were not looking good for the Japanese fighter as far as scorecards were concerned. Tynanes then scored a big takedown at the halfway mark. Ground n’ pound, elbows, and later some work along the cage took us to the end.

Lowen Tynanes def. Koji Ando by unanimous decision

Reece Mclaren vs. Muin Gafurov

Round 1 — Gafurov was the stronger fighter early in the round. A fair amount of back and forth early, and a big takedown towards the end of the round that would start to change the tide. The crowd was very much behind Mclaren, no doubt thanks to Mclaren hailing from nearby Australia.

Round 2 — A lot of ground fighting throughout the second round. Both fighters seemed to slow a little in the second, exhausted from grappling. Some big elbows, and a knee connecting was the story of the round. While Gafurov had his moments, Mclaren took the round.

Round 3 — Mclaren definitely had more in the tank than Gafurov in the third. Solid strikes, takedown attempts, and more shots landing by far. Powerful takedowns and cage control sealed the deal as Mclaren would go on to win the fight via unanimous decision.

Reece Mclaren def. Muin Gafurov by Unanimous decision

Honorio Banario vs. Vaughn Donayre

Round 1 — Banario stormed out early with strikes and scored a big takedown against Donayre early. A clinch along the cage followed, with some short punches and exchanges off the break. Donayre came storming back with some good shots, followed by a big overhand right for Banario. Banario was definitely the aggressor in the first round, excellent action overall.

Round 2 — In the second, Banario opened with an early takedown, but after Donayre invited him into his guard, he declined, chopping at his legs with kicks until the ref stood them up. Banario would continue to be dominant in this round, and score another takedown, then work to secure an arm-bar. Some scrambling, then another attempt at an arm bar by Banario that looked tight, but Donayre was able to roll out and land some strikes just before the round came to an end.

Round 3 — The third round mirrored the second for most of the action, with Banario in control for most of it, from top position. Submission attempts were fought off by Donayre, while exchanges on the feet were mostly even. Towards the end of the round, Donayre landed a low blow on Banario, and the action was paused to give him time to recover. ONce the fight resume, the action stayed on the feet with Donayre no doubt needing a stoppage, but the two exhausted fighters instead ran out the clock, and it went to the scorecards.

Honorio Banario def. Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous decision

Martin Nguyen vs. Li Kai Wen

Round 1 — Early on, Wen’s single leg attempt backfired and resulting in a highlight reel slam for Nguyen. Once back on the feet, an upper cut by Nguyen signaled that this could be a great standup war; Wen countered, and several exchanges followed. Wen connected and dropped Nguyen, however went for a guillotine allowing Nguyen to recover and secure top position. After some ground n’ pound Nguyen stood up and unloaded some soccer kicks that changed the course of the bout. Following up with more ground n’ pound, it looked like a submission was there, but Nguyen didn’t have hooks in. Finally securing hooks with 30 seconds left in the round, he would finish the fight by TKO due to strikes.

Martin Nguyen def. Li Kai Wen by TKO, Round 1, 4:44

Joshua Pacio vs. Rabin Catalan

Round 1 — Pacio scored a takedown early, and managed to control Catalan from the top for the better part of the first half of the round. Very active from the top with ground n’ pound, but Catalan showed good defense from the bottom with an active guard that Pacio was unable to pass. With just over a minute left in the first Pacio backed off and it looked for a moment like things would be stood back up, but he dove in again and added body shots and head strikes before finally passing into half guard then side control with seconds ticking down in the round.

Round 2 – A spinning back kick by Pacio started round two, but he failed to land it. The action stayed on the feet to start the round, with Catalan looking hesitant to engage — no doubt concerned about spending another round on his back. Things would eventually take a turn for the forst for Catalan when Pacio got him to the ground again. This time, there was no stopping him. Pacio with the win by TKO!

Joshua Pacio def. Rabin Catalan by TKO, Round 2, 3:19

FULL RESULTS

Ben Askren (c) def. Nikolay Aleksakhin by unanimous decision (non-title bout, Aleksakhin missed weight)
Geje Eustaquio def. Gianni Subba by unanimous decision
Lowen Tynanes def. Koji Ando by unanimous decision
Reece Mclaren def. Muin Gafurov by Unanimous decision
Honorio Banario def. Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous decision
Eric Kelly vs. Timofey Nastyukhin
Martin Nguyen def. Li Kai Wen by TKO, Round 1, 4:44
Joshua Pacio def. Rabin Catalan by TKO, Round 2, 3:19
April Osenio def. Natalie Gonzalez Hills by submission (arm bar), Round 1, 3:23
Sunoto Peringkat def. Bernard Soriano by TKO, Round 1, 3:50
Danny Kingad def. Muhamad Haidar by TKO, Round 1, 2:20

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.