Nikolay Aleksakhin’s best efforts were not enough to dethrone Ben Askren.
Askren retained his welterweight championship with a unanimous decision over Aleksakhin in the One Championship 40 “Global Rivals” headliner on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. All three cageside judges sided with Askren (15-0), to the surprise of no one.
Like so many other Askren opponents, Aleksakhin was put in untenable situations, often pinned beneath the four-time NCAA All-American and onetime Olympic wrestler. The champion executed a takedown inside the first minute, advanced to side control and grinded away at the chiseled Russian with elbows, short punches and knees to the head. With that, the tone was set.
The fight more or less followed the narrative for the remaining four rounds. Aleksakhin (17-4) gave the Roufusport star pause in the third with power punches and a high kick but could not keep him at bay for long. Whenever Askren sensed danger, he turned to his takedowns and drove the challenger to his back. Aleksakhin stung Askren with a right hand in the fourth round but faded down the stretch, as the “Funky” wrestler’s work took an obvious toll on his gas tank and left him incapable of turning the tide with meaningful offense.
In the three-round flyweight co-main event, Geje Eustaquio cruised to a unanimous verdict against Gianni Subba behind explosive punching combinations, sneaky counterstrikes and exquisite body work. Eustaquio (8-4) has rebounded from a two-fight losing streak with back-to-back wins.
Subba (7-2) found some early success on the feet, only to be met with the reality that he was outgunned and outclassed. Eustaquio, 27, painted his torso with repeated kicks, the impact echoing throughout the arena on more than one occasion. The Lakay MMA rep yielded a takedown with roughly a minute to go in the third round but escaped almost immediately, removing any chance of a Subba comeback.
The loss snapped a four-fight winning streak for the 23-year-old Subba.
Meanwhile, former King of the Cage champion and blue-chip prospect Lowen Tynanes kept his record unblemished with a unanimous decision over Sengoku veteran Koji Ando in a three-round showcase at 155 pounds. In victory, Tynanes (9-0) likely cemented his place as a potential challenger for One Championship lightweight titleholder Shinya Aoki.
Tyananes did what he does best, and Ando was powerless to stop him. The undefeated Hawaiian pecked away with low kicks and overhand rights while engaged in the standup, pursued a stifling clinch and executed takedowns in all three rounds. He stayed busy enough in top position, applying his ground-and-pound from full guard and half guard. By the time the third round arrived, Ando (12-5-2) seemed resigned to the fact that he was a beaten man.
In other action, Reece McLaren (9-3) claimed a unanimous verdict against Muin Gafurov (10-1) in their 15-minute bantamweight duel; Honorio Banario (9-6) captured a unanimous decision over Vaughn Donayre (8-5) in their three-round battle at 155 pounds; Martin Nguyen (6-1) wiped out Li Kai Wen (5-3) with punches 4:44 into the first round of their featherweight tilt; Joshua Pacio (7-0) took care of Rabin Catalan (4-2) with punches 3:19 into round two of their confrontation at 125 pounds; April Osenio (1-1) submitted Natalie Gonzales Hills (1-4) with an armbar 3:23 into the first round of their atomweight scrap; Su Noto (4-2) punched Bernard Soriano (2-2) into submission 3:50 into round one of their pairing at 145 pounds; and Danny Kingad (3-0) put away Muhamad Haidar (0-1) with punches 2:20 into the first round of their flyweight affair.