Undefeated former Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren is heading to Singapore in May to train at Evolve MMA for his first-ever ONE FC fight. The details of the date and opponent remain a mystery, but it appears the two-time NCAA Division-1 wrestling champion will be back in action by the middle of the year.
Askren’s decision to sign with ONE FC dominated the headlines towards the tail end of 2013 and during that period he also joined the Evolve MMA fight team, having previously traveled to Singapore for a training trip to the world-renowned camp.
The 29 year old will begin all future training camps at Roufosport in his native Wisconsin before heading to Evolve MMA for the final stages of preparation. He will be joined in May by legendary lightweight Shinya Aoki, who apparently also has a ONE FC fight booked around the same period, meaning that two of the top fighters in their respective divisions will be training together for the first time.
Evolve MMA owner Chatri Sityodtong confirmed by email that both fighters had training camps booked, but wouldn’t give any further detail.
"Shinya Aoki has proven himself to be arguably the best grappler in all of MMA and Ben Askren’s wrestling credentials and undefeated fighting record speak for themselves. The best attract the best and they will definitely benefit from training together under the team of world champions at Evolve MMA."
Aoki is set to make a first and probably final defense of his ONE FC lightweight title before making a permanent move to featherweight. The winner of the March 14th fight between Kamal Shalorus and Ariel Sexton will potentially be in pole position for a shot at him, although Vuyisile Colossa is another contender waiting in the wings.
Askren will also be keeping a close eye on ONE FC: "War of Nations," which is set for Kuala Lumpur next month, because two of the promotion’s top welterweights, Nobutatsu Suzuki and Brock Larson, will be doing battle for the inaugural 170-pound belt.
Given Askren’s unblemished record and his status as an undefeated former Bellator champion, matchmakers might well be tempted to grant him an immediate title shot in which case he would find himself facing the winner of the upcoming fight between Suzuki and Larson.
One Evolve MMA fighter who won’t be fighting for a few months is Eddie Ng, who had initially signed to face Shalorus in March, but aggravated a shoulder injury in training and is unlikely to be getting back into the cage until the second half of the year.