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Askren defends One title against Russian foe in PH

One Championship (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Ben Askren will put his One welterweight belt at stake against Nikolay Aleksakhin in the main event of the MMA outfit's first event in the Philippines for 2016.

One announced on Thursday that the Askren-Aleksakhin match will headline the Global Rivals event at the Mall of Asia Arena on April 15.

Barely a year after his supposed title defense in the said venue was declared a no-contest after challenger Luis Santos got accidentally poked in the eye, making him unable to continue, the American holder will have a second chance to show to the Filipino MMA fans why he deserves to be a champion with a showdown against the Russian challenger, who was impressive in his first One match.

A win by Askren could mean the long-delayed rematch with Santos may finally take place. Santos defeated Rafael Silva last week in Jakarta to earn the right to face the Askren-Aleksakhin winner for the belt.

The rematch initially scheduled last November in Singapore was called off after Santos came into the official weigh-in overweight.

One: Global Rivals will kick off a series of big international sports events that will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena this year.

A week later, some of the top e-sports clubs will face off in the ESL One DOTA 2 tournament, while two months after, more online gaming pros will converge for the Manila Major.

Then, the much-awaited FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament will happen on July 5-10 with Gilas Pilipinas vying for one of three remaining slots for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in August at home.

The IPTL will have its Philippine leg later in the year, while One will stage another fight card at the said venue in December.

The rest of the One: Global Rivals fight card will be announced at a later date.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno