That’s why Askren did not hesitate to take on the the former ONE Lightweight World Champion for his swan song on Friday in the ONE: Immortal Pursuit at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“Shinya is a really good final opponent. Obviously, he is a legend of the sport, and he is a really big challenge on the ground, which is where I like to compete, personally. I am excited for this bout,” said Askren of the ONE Weltwerweight clash.
The former Beijing Olympian is looking to walk away from the sport with a spotless record, but that’s going to be easier said than done against of the best mixed martial artists in Asia.
But that challenge of going out with a victory against a legend like Aoki, who touts an impressive resume of submission victories earning him the monicker of “Tobikan Judan,” is what drew the American fighter to the World Championship bout.
“He is a grappler and has a great skill set that I respect, so I think it will be a great battle,” Askren said of Aoki, who is his teammate at EVOLVE MMA.
Expect the 33-year-old Askren, an outstanding wrestler in his college days, to take the fight to the ground, where he has earned a living through his undefeated eight-year career as pro.
“I said from day one that I am the best in the world at what I do, and this is what I am going to do every single time. I have been saying that since I started in 2009, and I believe it more strongly than ever because I have proved it 17 times now, and I am pumped to prove it again,” he stated.
“He’s going to stick around until I put him out.”