Luis Santos firmly believes he was well on his way to taking Ben Askren’s ONE Championship welterweight belt before an eye poke ended their April fight just more than two minutes into the first round.
He will get a chance to prove that he can finish what he started.
ONE officials confirmed Santos will get a rematch against Askren in the main event of the ONE: Pride of Lions card at Singapore Indoor Stadium on Nov. 13.
“I’ve been training hard and can’t wait to get Santos back in the cage and make him humble,” Askren said.
Askren is widely considered the best 170-pound fighter in the world not under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Some observers, including several oddsmakers, would put him right near the top of that list even without the qualifier.
But the unbeaten former Bellator champion was tested early against Santos, who was able to thwart Askren’s takedown attempts and even get the 2008 Olympian and two-time NCAA champion wrestler to the ground.
Santos, however, caught an eye poke and couldn’t continue, even after the allotted five minutes to recover. The no-contest result has created animosity between the fighters and should fuel the promotion of the rematch.
“Santos gave me his best shots in the last fight and when they didn’t work he faked the eye injury to get out of the fight,” Askren said. “I can’t wait to get him in the cage again.
“He isn’t tough enough to beat me.”
Askren won each of his first two fights with ONE in the opening round. He submitted Bakhtiyar Abbasov in 4:21 in May 2014, then knocked out Nobutatsu Suzuki in just 84 seconds to capture the organization’s welterweight title four months later.
The first fight against Santos was the first defense of his belt.
Santos, a 35-year-old veteran of more than 70 professional fights, is a Brazilian black belt that trains at American Top Team in Florida.
ONE Championship is the largest sports media property in Asia with broadcasts available in more than 70 countries.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.