ONE Championship 26 took place in the early morning hours on Friday. It was scheduled to be headlined by a welterweight championship bout between Ben Askren and challenger Luis Santos. The bout began like any normal bout should but it was not until half way through the first round when things turned a little strange.
At the sound of the bell Askren was relentless with his takedown attempts but Santos was successful in shaking off the world-class wrestler and even reversed two takedowns. In the early stages of the round it looked like Askren was going to be in big trouble with Sanots. The more Askren failed at his takedown attempts the sillier he looked. At one point Santos was able to kick the legs of Askren right from underneath him forcing the champion to land on his backside. In ONE Championship it is legal to kick a downed opponent with head kicks and soccer kicks. After almost every failed Askren takedown, Santos would try to land a kick to the head as Askren made his way back to his feet.
Askren’s persistence paid off as he was able to secure his first takedown midway through the round. As he landed the takedown you could feel the changing of the guard as now Askren was where he makes his bread and butter. Unfortunately almost immediately after he landed the takedown the action was stopped as Askren had inadvertently poked Santos in the eye. But that was not what referee Oliver Coste saw and what ensued next was pure confusion.
After Coste stopped the action and forced Askren into a neutral part of the cage he kept asking Santos what had happened. Coste had thought that Santos took a shoulder to the eye and wanted the fight to continue by having the fighters go back on the ground and pick up where they had left off. Santos was unresponsive to Coste’s demands and thus was giving a warning. The whole time this was going on, Askren was in the background trying to get the fight going again.
Coste then asked for a replay to be shown on the big screen so he could see what actually had happened. Coste was still convinced it was Askren’s shoulder that cause the eye injury and asked Santos if he wanted to continue. Santos again gave no answer thus forcing the bout to be stopped. Officials and Sanots’ corner tried to help with he language barrier but that only seemed to add to the confusion. The bout was ruled a no contest thus Askren retains his welterweight championship.
Askren vented his frustrations during his post fight interview,”This is embarrassing. I knew that the strategy and what I heard from people was he comes out strong early then he’s going to look for a way out. And it’s unfortunate that his way out came this way.
“Funky” Ben then questioned the language barrier issue that Santo and the referee had encountered, “He’s lived in America for five years. I know he understands ‘get up,’ I know he understands ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I don’t even know what to say. Let’s fight again as soon as possible, maybe next week, maybe two weeks. You looked for a way out. I’m going to give you a better way out next time.”
ONE Championship 26: Valor of Champions Results:
Welterweight Championship Bout:
Ben Askren vs. Luis Santos ruled a No Contest (accidental eyepoke) at 2:19 of Round 1
Mark Striegl def. Casey Suire via submission at 3:48 of Round 1
Anatpong Bunrad def. Geje Eustaquio via split decision
Eugene Toquero def. Brianata Rosadhi via TKO at 3:41 of Round 1
Edward Kelly def. Jimmy Yabo via submission at 4:05 of Round 1
Amir Khan def. Bashir Ahmad via TKO at 3:20 of Round 3
Liu Xiao Yang def. Nicholas Lee via KO at 1:59 of Round 1
Wang Ya Wei def. Sunoto via KO at 1:21 of Round 3