ByJim Edwards, writer at
MMA story chaser from the UK
Jim Edwards

has never been a man to mince his words.

Last evening, the ONE welterweight champion took part in a media conference call to promote the upcoming ONE: Dynasty of Heroes event on May 26. Askren will face Malaysian fighter, Agilan Thani, an undefeated fighter with a record of 7-0 who has fought six of his seven bouts in .

Askren has been on the shelf for over a year, with his most recent bout back at ONE: Global Warriors last April. Suffice to say, it’s been a frustrating time for the champion and he explained why last evening.

“I’m really excited to be back in the cage—it’s been a while for me,” Askren said. “I’ve not fought since last April, so I appreciate Agilan taking the fight because part of [the reason for] my time off was due to other opponents. Although they said in the media that they wanted to fight—they wouldn’t sign the contracts and meet me in the cage. I really do thank Agilan for his willingness to get in the cage. Really, that’s what being a fighter is all about. When the opportunity comes, you sign the damn contract and you step in the cage and fight someone.”

While Askren said he was thankful for Thani taking the fight, the ONE welterweight champion promised that come fight night, he would be as ruthless as he’s ever been.

“Agilan, you got four-and-a-half weeks until you get in a cage with me,” Askren said, addressing Thani directly. “I’m going to tell you just like I told all my other last opponents, and this is a scary truth; I will run across the cage, I will grab you, I will put you on your back and then I will punch you until you ask the ref to stop me from doing so. Enjoy the next four-and-a-half weeks. I hope you’re looking forward to the challenge, but in four-and-a-half weeks, it will only be a few minutes before you’re on your back.”

Askren’s verbal assault on Thani continued later in the call. When asked what he made of Thani’s inspirational story of coming from Malaysia’s lower level development scene all the way to a ONE Championship title fight, Askren said he recognized the achievement, but that it wouldn’t mean anything come fight night.

“I can appreciate Agilan’s story and where he came from and how he came up through the ranks all the way until he’s fighting for a world title now,” Askren admitted. “I can appreciate that. But, that being said, I’m not going to be his storybook ending. He’s going to have a very rough night on May 26. Look, he’s only 21—I mean he might learn some tough lessons on May 26, but that’s not saying it’s going to be the end of his career. I think he’s got a lot of time left to fight, so I think he will learn some tough lessons, but hopefully, somewhere down the line when I hang up my gloves and give up my belt, he will have that storybook ending, but I think he’s going to have a tough night.”

It was vintage Ben Askren last evening on the conference call, but will the long layoff have affected him on fight night? All will be revealed at ONE: Kings of Dynasty.

Ben Askren Record

  • MMA Record: 15-0-0, 1 NC
  • Nickname: Funky
  • Age: 32 | Date of Birth: 1984.07.18
  • Weight Class: Welterweight | Last Weigh-In: 170.0 lbs
  • Height: 5’11” (181cm)

Agilan Thani Record

  • MMA Record: 7-0-0
  • Nickname: The Alligator
  • Age: 21 | Date of Birth: 1995.08.18
  • Weight Class: Welterweight | Last Weigh-In: 170.0 lbs
  • Height: 5’9″ (175cm)


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