ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit Results and Recap

MMA ONE Championship: Shanghai Ben Askren
Credit: ONE Championship

Will top welterweight Ben Askren be able to walk away from his career an undefeated two-promotion champion?

Friday’s ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit sees Ben Askren step into the cage for the final time. Opposite him will stand Japanese standout Shinya Aoki, a former lightweight champion in ONE. Long considered the best welterweight outside the UFC, ‘Funky’ Ben Askren’s career has been as frustrating to watch from afar at times as it has for his opponents inside the cage. Not a loss to his name, yet fighting in Bellator MMA when it just didn’t have the best welterweights in the world was a shame. Yet it made Askren a tantalizing prospect.

Then, an opportunity: Askren and Bellator had a falling out. All signs pointed to the UFC, only for Askren and UFC President Dana White to butt heads. White, never exactly diplomatic, frankly dropped the ball, insisting Askren take fights outside the UFC before jumping to the promotion. ‘Funky,’ however, understanding that the fight game generally leads to a short career, decided to get the maximum return for his efforts. Instead of jumping through White’s hoops, he signed with ONE Championship.

While lesser known stateside, ONE grew to dominate the Asian MMA scene. Askren was one of the faces of the business. The only problem? It seemed the promotion could barely keep him busy. Months between fights turned into year-long spans, with the wrestling maestro appearing just once in both 2015 and 2016. Finally, 2017 arrived, and with it a full three Askren fights — the third being his final. ‘Funky’ has long talked of exiting the sport before his “expiration date,” and he is staying true to his word Friday.

Friday Isn’t Just About Askren

Also on the ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit card, Mei Yamaguchi takes on Gina Iniong, looking for vengeance from an earlier loss outside the promotion. Yamaguchi had been expecting a title fight at Immortal Pursuit, only to see it fall through when strawweight champ Angela Lee was involved in a car crash. Iniong is the consolation prize in that sense, but avenging a loss is never a bad thing.

In the co-main event, Amir Khan will look to continue his ascent up the lightweight ladder, and possibly challenge for a title should he take home the win against Adrian Pang.

The event takes place live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

Check back come fight time for a main card recap and results!

Mei Yamaguchi vs. Gina Iniong

Much was made of Yamaguchi missing her title shot, but revenge was on her mind at Immortal Pursuit. Iniong owned a split decision win over the Japanese stalwart from back in 2014.

It was Iniong who pressed forward early, leading with a right hand; an early clinch saw the Filipino fighter pushing Yamaguchi against the cage, throwing knees while trapping her with double underhooks. Off the fence, Yamaguchi pulled guard, then reversed position with a sweep. Iniong was active off her back, but Yamaguchi began landing a number of strikes, each one underlined by a roar from the crowd. The action came to a halt, however, with an illegal upkick by Gina Iniong. The ref opted to restart them on the feet, which worked to Iniong’s advantage until Yamaguchi pulled guard again. A butterfly sweep also followed, mirroring the first sequence that took them to the ground. More heavy shots from the top for Yamaguchi came next, taking them to round’s end.

In the second, Mei Yamaguchi went hunting for a single-leg takedown early. She secured it easily enough, landing in half-guard. On the ground, the peppered Iniong’s body with short punches, controlling the action. Midway through the frame she was able to move to mount, but Iniong was able to find enough room to force her back into half guard. The Japanese fighter was then able to move to side control, dropping hammer fists to her opponent’s midsection. An arm-triangle attack came close, but Iniong escaped, only to give up her back and take more damage.

Yamaguchi opened the third with an overhand, while Iniong looked to land her right hand. Iniong was able to fight off the first takedown attempt, but a low blow by the Filipino stopped the action again. Back underway, Iniong whiffed with another big right hand. Yamaguchi then connected with a combination of her own. After two rounds that saw a lot of ground work, the third was contested mainly on the feet. Iniong would land the right, and fight off a single leg briefly before Yamaguchi finally scored one last takedown in the final minute. That likely secured the round for Mei; they’d get back to the feet for the final ten seconds, but Iniong proved ineffective. Mei Yamaguchi had her revenge!

Mei Yamaguchi def. Gina Iniong by unanimous decision

Tiffany Teo vs. Puja Tomar

Teo fell back on her boxing while Tomar struck out with some kicks as the second bout of the evening got underway. A clinch against the cage saw Teo land a number of knees to the legs of Puja Tomar, a veteran of India’s SFL. Teo used her size to control the clinches throughout the first round, and literally threw Tomar to the ground with just over a minute left in the round, gaining mount and looking to do damage. Tomar gave up her back trying to escape, leading to a Teo arm-bar that forced the tap! Afterwards, Teo called for a shot at the vacant strawweight title.

Tiffany Teo def. Puja Tomar by submission (arm-bar), Round 1, 4:07

Li Kai Wen vs. Ahmed Mujtaba

Wen and Mujtaba got to throwing down early, exchanging punches until Mujtaba looked for a takedown. Illegal blows to the back of the head by Li Kai Wen then stopped the action, as the ref gave Mujtaba five minutes to recover. Mujtaba, however, was unable to continue, and the fight was waved off. That resulted in a DQ win for the Pakistani fighter.

Ahmed Mujtaba def. Li Kai Wen by DQ (illegal strikes), Round 1

May Ooi vs. Vy Srey Khouch

May Ooi was careful to circle out of the way of Vy Srey Khouch’s powerful right hand early in their catchweight bout. Ooi then shot in for a single-leg takedown, landing it. She’d use knee-on-belly to control Khouch and sink in an arm triangle choke. Khouch would land a number of punches from the bottom, surviving the choke, but Ooi would find herself in full mount. With lots of time to work, she focused on softening her opponent up with ground and pound. Khouch was forced to give up her back, and after fighting off an initial attempt, a subsequent rear-naked choke, hooks in, forces the tap!

May Ooi def. Vy Srey Khouch by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 3:58

Leandro Issa vs. Dae Hwan Kim

Leandro Issa immediately pressed the action in his bantamweight scrap against Dae Hwan Kim, cutting off the cage. An early takedown saw Kim on his back, with Issa working from half-guard. Kim worked hard to find a way back to his feet, but before he could power up, Issa got a hook in and began landing strikes to the side of the head. Pushing down on Kim’s head, he forced the South Korean to give up the back, but Kim was finally able to make it to his feet, briefly taking Issa’s back.

It wouldn’t stay up for long. Issa immediately went for another takedown, but Kim pulled guard in a guillotine attempt. A couple of smashing elbows from the top forced Kim to cover up; Issa was able to pin his opponent’s arm then move to full mount. He’d lose mount in an arm triangle choke attempt, and the action would go to a second round.

Round two again saw Issa manage to get the fight to the ground. Kim looked to force a scramble, but Issa instead moved to half-guard. It was full dominance from there on out, with Issa in control and Kim unable to do much more than struggle in vain and cover up. A kimura attempt by Issa at the end of the round would fail, but heading to a third, Issa had a considerable lead.

Kim opened the third with a kick, but Issa led with a combination then used a throw to take the fight to the ground once more. Using a leg to tie up his opponent, Issa was able to pass to full mount with two minutes to go in the round. Kim would give up the back, and soon the body triangle was on; he would again survive, but was being pummeled. Kim would survive to see the final bell, freeing himself in the final seconds and landing a few punches from the top, but it was a lopsided decision for Leandro Issa.

Leandro Issa def. Dae Hwan Kim by unanimous decision

Amir Khan vs. Adrian Pang

Amir Khan opened with a side kick, followed by two front kicks in the co-main event at Immortal Pursuit. Khan would use his kicks to create space as Pang looked to walk him down. Pang would launch a leg kick of his own, and would attempt to press Khan up against the cage, looking for the takedown. Khan displayed solid defense, reversing, and back in the center of the cage, flashed stance switches and more side kicks. Pang proved undeterred and continued walking Khan down, again pressing him against the fence and looking for a double leg. Once more, however, Khan’s takedown defense made the difference.

Amir Khan again displayed excellent defense in the clinch early in round two. Pang had his hands low, and Khan shot in explosively only to find that Pang’s takedown defense was equally impressive. Pang then unloaded a short flurry of strikes along the cage, but Khan was able to take the back standing. Khan then landed a high kick after the break, and chopped away at the legs of Pang. Pang, however, would storm back at the end of the round. With a minute to go he scooped up Khan and slammed him down. Khan would escape, but it was Pang’s biggest moment in the bout so far.

Pang opened round three with an overhand right, then caught Khan with a hard body shot shortly after. They’d clinch, and Khan reversed. The third would see enough clinching that ref Yuji Shimada broke them up; that allowed Pang to get his hands going. Khan fired back, connecting with a number of punches and a high kick to the head of Pang. Pang, however, showed some solid head movement, and was able to regain control. The fight suddenly became a back-and-forth affair with Pang initiating clinches, Khan reversing, and the pair exchanging fire at various points in between. Khan would decline Pang’s invitation to brawl in the final thirty seconds, still wary of the Australian’s power.

Amir Khan def. Adrian Pang by unanimous decision

Ben Askren vs. Shinya Aoki

In the main event of ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit, welterweight champion Ben Askren made his final walk to the cage. Opposite him, a former lightweight champion in Shinya Aoki. Coming out to Parliament’s We Want the Funk one last time, Askren took his time to revel in the moment during his walkout in Singapore Friday.

Once in the cage, of course, it was all business. It was Ben Askren pressing forward and throwing the opening strikes; Aoki jumped guard, but Askren stayed standing, carrying Aoki’s weight before slamming him down. Askren was in a tight guard, landing right hands. Aoki was soon covering up, and Askren had the TKO! Ben Askren finished Shinya Aoki with strikes in the final bout of his career.

“I think it’s it” said Askren after the fight, in regards to his career. He hinted at a return if a shot at the UFC title came up, saying “I think I’m number one, I know I’m number one, I haven’t gotten to prove to the world that I’m number one.”

“Other than that, I’m out.” Askren went on to thank his parents, family, coaches, training partners, and said he was looking forward to a Christmas where he wouldn’t have to watch his weight.

Ben Askren def. Shinya Aoki by TKO, Round 1, 0:57

ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit Results:

Main Card:

Ben Askren def. Shinya Aoki by TKO, Round 1, 0:57
Amir Khan def. Adrian Pang by unanimous decision
Leandro Issa def. Dae Hwan Kim by unanimous decision
May Ooi def. Vy Srey Khouch by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 3:58
Ahmed Mujtaba def. Li Kai Wen by DQ (illegal strikes), Round 1
Tiffany Teo def. Puja Tomar by submission (arm-bar), Round 1, 4:07
Mei Yamaguchi def. Gina Iniong by unanimous decision

Preliminary Card:

Arnaud Lepont def. Richard Corminal by submission (arm-triangle choke)
Muhammad Aiman def. Yang Fei by unanimous decision
Miao Li Tao def. Sim Bunsrun by KO/TKO, Round 1