26 October 2019 16:37
The answer to that question will begin to form Saturday from Singapore Indoor Stadium where Askren (19-1) will step into the Octagon to face Demian Maia (27-9) in an old-school matchup of wrestler vs. Favorite Underdog Weightclass Ben Askren -160 Demian Maia +130 Welterweight Michael Johnson -270 Stevie Ray +220 Lightweight Beneil Dariush -180 Frank Camacho +150 Lightweight Ciryl Gane -330 Round 1: Maia comes out throwing powerful left straights. At the midway point, Askren lands a couple of punches on his way into the clinch and begins to have more success in the exchanges. Maia lands a strong kick to Askren's body and the it immediately marks the American's torso. Round 2: Maia lands a straight left and Askren replied with a series of jab attempts.
Maia lands a left straight but Askren replies with an uppercut, which damages Maia's eye. As Maia continues to land the left straight, Askren continues to answer with left hook. Askren scores a strong body lock takedown a minute in and lands in side control, but Maia eventually gets back to his feet. Askren lands a kick to the body and straight punch. Maia springs into life at the midway point, landing a knee to the body and another left hand.
His striking was wild and unrefined, but Pessoa landed more frequently and as a result takes Round 1 on our scorecard, 10-9. Solid leg kicks from Pessoa land and Hughes feels them both. Round 3 – We're into the final round and Pessoa attempts a wheel kick which misses and Hughes starts to push forward. Pessoa bursts forward and lands a solid straight right, but doesn't follow it up. Nice counter left hook from Hughes, whose right eye now looks almost completely shut.
Hughes, struggling to get inside range, tries a jumping knee to close the distance and Pessoa counters with big shots on the break. Round 1 – Lookboonmee strikes first and the pair go toe to toe landing close-range shots. Albu closes the distance and initiates the clinch, and Lookboonmee locks up and connects with knees and a crisp elbow. Albu comes back swinging and connects with a head kick, which Lookboonmee takes well. Barzola connects with a big leg kick, but Evloev answers with a big right hand. Barzola beginning to get a foothold in the fight with his strikes, but just as the Peruvian gets comfortable on his feet, Evloev takes him to the mat once again. Spinning back kick lands for Evloev, but Barzola pushes forward again and connects with a solid right hand. Evloev connects with a pair of uppercuts, but Barzola keeps on pushing forward, connecting with body kicks and punches. Head kick, followed by a left-right combination from Fiziev. Fiziev catches a kick and lands a crushing shot to the body, then gives White double thumbs-up after the end of the exchange, possibly after a shot strayed close to the belt. Stiff right hand from Fiziev finds its mark before the Kazakh athlete stuffs another White takedown attempt. Round 3 – The pair high-five before getting the final round off and underway, and White immediately looks to push forward with strikes. White looking a little slicker with his strikes early on this round, but is taken to the mat by a surprise double-leg by Fiziev. Nice sneaky straight left from White connects on Fiziev, who is looking to push forward in the second half of the round. Round 1 – They move straight to the outside and trade kicks before Markos closes the distance and initiates the clinch. Yoder lands some ground strikes on Markos, who then attempts to move her legs around and lock up a reverse triangle from the bottom. Round 2 – Markos opens up throwing strikes, but Yoder closes the distance and clinches up against the cage. Markos comes marauding forward throwing straight punches and Yoder counters by taking "Quiet Storm" to the mat and landing on top once again. Yoder trying to score with some strikes from her back, but Markos landing some solid ground and pound to finish the round. Markos pushes forward and lands a host of shots, including a solid left hand that snaps back Yoder's head. Round 1 – Salikhov opens with a right hand but Staropoli evades and counters with a spinning back fist which narrowly misses. Another spinning kick, this time to the body, from Salikhov puts the cap on a solid opening round. Salikhov catches a kick and throws Staropoli to the mat, but the action returns to the feet straight away. Staropoli looking much more comfortable in this round and attempts a spinning kick, which Salikhov easily evades. Big Salikhov right hand connects as Staropoli looks to change levels for a takedown. Round 3 – Staropoli comes out of his corner with a swollen right eye and a chip on his shoulder as he surges towards Salikhov and connects with a big left hook. Overhand right from Staropoli lands, but Salikhov counters immediately with a short left hook. The Russian lands a super-fast right hand the connects with a head kick that Staropoli takes well. Big left hook lands clean on the side of Salikhov's head, while a spinning heel kick narrowly misses. Big body kick from Gane and a solid left jab, which grazes the chin of the American. Gane throws a lovely uppercut, right cross combination and later connects with another body kick. Round 2 – Gane ducks under a big Mayes right hook at the start of the round, then sets to work again. The action restarts and Mayes lands a big body shot, but he can't stop Gane from moving forward. Left hook from Gane clips Mayes and a big uppercut narrowly misses as the Frenchman looks to load up on the inside. Gane moves in looking to follow a double jab with a big right, but smothered his own work a little. Gane lands a solid leg kick, then connects with a stiff uppercut that Mayes takes well. Mayes throws a spinning backfist and is countered with a short, sharp right hand by Gane. Round 1 – Camacho comes out pushing the pace, as he loves to do, but Dariush lands the first meaningful strikes of the round, with a couple of leg kicks and a solid Superman punch. Dariush's striking looks sharp early on and he clips Camacho on the break with a lovely left hook, then lands a body kick. Round 1 – Ray opens up with a leg kick while Johnson looked to establish his boxing. Ray clearly investing in the later rounds by landing big leg kicks early on. Ray finds a home for his hands, too, with a straight left and a big right hook finding their mark. Big left from Ray is instantly countered by a two-punch combination from Johnson. Very close opening round, but Ray's faster start and success with his leg kicks, as well as his punches, may just have shaded it. Ray stepping up to the pocket and landing big single shots, but Johnson is replying with two-punch replies. Big two-punch combo from Johnson lands clean and a spectacular spinning back kick connects just under Ray's chin. Round 1 – Maia comes out striking and connects with a straight left hand. Askren looking to close the distance with a leg kick and punches, but Maia stays away from a possible takedown attempt. Fight still standing, with Maia happy to work his strikes as Askren moves in looking to clinch and take the fight to the mat. Askren throws an uppercut and attempts to lock up a front choke but Maia backs out of it. Straight right lands for Askren, but once again Maia is dominating the clinch and disengages when he sees fit. Maia connects with strikes and Askren briefly looks on unsteady legs. Askren continuing to push forward but walks into a big body kick from Maia. Round 2 – Body kick from Askren opens up Round 2 as Maia looks to work behind his punches once again. Both men throw at the same time and Askren lands cleaner with a big uppercut. The fight goes to the mat again via an Askren single-leg, and Maia brilliantly reverses position using a heel hook, takes Askren's back, locks up the rear-naked choke and puts on the squeeze.