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The event takes place on April 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, and while seeing the former Olympic wrestler compete is reason enough to tune in, ONE officials have put together quite the card to complement the headlining bout.
Here are four reasons to watch:
1. Can Askren stay undefeated and stop Aleksakhin?
The pressure that comes with being Ben Askren is felt each time "Funky" steps inside the cage. That will once again be the case when he takes on Russia's Nikolay Aleksakhin, who is riding high off a 6-fight win streak.
Fourteen fighters before Aleksakhin have believed with all their heart that they would be the one to defeat Askren or end his unbeaten run, and 14 times, they have failed.
Askren, one of the most well-conditioned athletes in all of MMA thanks to his impressive background in wrestling, just might face someone willing to push him the distance this time around.
Aleksakhin has nine decision victories in his career to go along with six knockouts, and has not been defeated in his last six, which means he has all the tools he needs to defeat the American.
After earning back-to-back first round finishes to start his career with ONE after a successful run as Bellator champion, Askren's lone 2015 bout vs. Luis "Sapo" Santos ended in a no-contest due to an eye poke.
He was scheduled for a rematch, but issues at weigh-ins cancelled that, which means Askren has been out of active competition for quite a while.
2. Who will move up the flyweight ranks: Eustaquio or Subba?
Another intriguing matchup on the night would be the flyweight battle between Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio and Gianni Subba. Essentially, the winner of this bout could very well be the next challenger for Kairat "The Kazakh" Akhmetov's ONE Flyweight World Championship.
Subba is likely right on the cusp of competing for the belt thanks to four consecutive victories. If he can add Eustaquio to his resume, it will be a trademark win for the 23-year-old, and he is not short on confidence that he can achieve that.
However, Eustaquio could leapfrog Subba in the rankings with a win in Manila. "Gravity" first earned himself a shot at Adriano "Black Diamond" Moraes and the ONE title in 2014, but was bested via submission. He might have suffered a split decision defeat last year, but quickly rebounded in 2016 by knocking out Saiful "The Vampire" Merican in January to place himself right back into contention.
3. Is Koji Ando the one to end Lowen Tynanes' perfect record?
Lowen Tynanes has yet to taste defeat over eight professional bouts and four amateur fights, meaning the proud Hawaiian is in fine form. But after winning his first four fights in ONE Championship, he will take a huge step up in competition against Koji "The Commander" Ando.
Ando owns victories over former ONE Featherweight World Champion Jadambaa Narantungalag, Zorobabel "Zoro" Moreira and legendary veteran Roger "El Matador" Huerta. He has also shared the cage with current ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya "Tobikan Judan" Aoki, which means he's got all the right experience and skills to be in the cage with the best.
Should Tynanes find himself on the winning end of this bout, a crack at Aoki and his title could be in his near future, while an Ando win would similarly make a good case for an Aoki rematch.
4. Which prospect takes the next step forward?
ONE Championship is home to some of the brightest prospects in the world of MMA today, and this event is another showcase of just that.
There is a dazzling array of talent that will be on display in Manila, which makes many bouts compelling in their own way. Unbeaten Muin "Tajik" Gafurov returns against Reece "Lightning" McLaren, Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen battles Li Kai Wen, and Joshua Pacio takes on Rabin "The Rock" Catalan.
With the chance to perform in front of a packed stadium before them, each is sure to rise to the occasion and put themselves on the path to glory by going for a highlight-reel finish.
Previously in MMA:
* Hey Gov, Let Us Have Tito Ortiz!
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Posted on Jan 22, 2021