Is the next fight the end for Ben Askren. If so, it will come against a less-than-expected opponent.
Monday, One Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong took to Facebook to announce the two co-headlining bouts for One's “Immortal Pursuit” scheduled for Nov. 24 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. Undefeated 115-pound champion Angela Lee will main event the bill, defending her title against Japan's Mei Yamaguchi in a rematch of one of 2016's best bouts. What is garnering more attention however is Sityodtong's other announcement: One's 185-pound champion Ben Askren will face former One, Dream and Shooto champion Shinya Aoki in what is claimed to be his final MMA bout.
In what will be a ferocious contest between two great white sharks, Shinya Aoki and Ben Askren have decided to lay it all on the line. Win or lose, this fight will be Ben's last. Ben has made the decision to retire after this fight to become an executive at ONE,” Sityodtong wrote in a Monday Facebook post. It is not known if Askren's 185-pound title will be on the line; though Aoki is best known for his exploits as a lightweight, he began his career at 181 pounds, held the Shooto world title at 168 pounds and had One's 170-pound title taken from him in his last fight, a knockout loss to Eduard Folayang last November.
Askren, 33, successfully defended his One title on Sept. 2, destroying Sweden's Zebaztian Kadestam. The former Bellator MMA welterweight champion is now 17-0 (1 NC) in his nearly eight-year pro MMA career. The loquacious Askren has yet to comment on the bout.
Lee and Yamaguchi originally met in May 2016 and staged a fantastic 25-minute battle for the One title, with Lee prevailing via split decision. Since then, the 21-year-old Lee has continued her ascent, punching out Jenny Huang this past May, then choking out Istela Nunes 10 weeks later. “V.V. Mei” has fought just once since their initial confrontation, dropping an August 2016 decision to the aforementioned Nunes.