Ben Askren's world-class wrestling poses a problem that no opponent has ever been able to successfully solve, but Brazilian Luis Santos, who will be challenging "Funky" for his ONE Championship title on April 24th, has a unique skill set of his own which he feels is being grossly underestimated.
"I am a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and I have 35 knockouts," he said. "Ben Askren has never felt power like mine."
Santos has his own personal highlight reel of knockouts which includes this spectacular push kick KO from an XFC show last year and there is no doubt that he is the most dangerous stand-up fighter that Askren has ever faced. But the Brazilian also has 13 submission wins and plenty of confidence in his ground game.
"I train at American Top Team with Katel Kubis, Luciano Macarrao, Ricardo Liborio, and Ailton Barbosa," he said. "Kami Barzini is my wrestling coach and I'm working hard to not be derrubado (taken down) but, if it does happen, with my Jiu Jitsu I will be fine."
Santos made his ONE Championship debut last year and stopped Bakhtiyar Abbasov with a brutal knee less than a minute into the opening round. He's finished his last seven opponents, with six of them getting knocked out or TKOed and the other one being submitted with a kneebar.
Despite being renowned for his striking prowess Santos actually started out studying the grappling arts.
"I started in martial arts when I was just five years old when I began Judo at the incentivado (encouragement) of my father," he said. "Years later I saw an MMA fight for the first time and enjoyed it so much that I decided this would be what I would do with my life."
Exactly where Askren stands in the welterweight rankings is the subject of intense debate and there are many who believe that the undefeated American is the best 170-pounder in the world. Santos' career might have spanned 15 years and 70+ fights, but he believes a win at ONE: "Valor of Champions" would trump any of his previous achievements.
"All the fights are important but fighting for the belt on the greatest show on Asia against the best fighter in the division is a great challenge and opportunity," he said.
Santos signed to fight Askren back in January, meaning that he has had over three months to prepare for this Manila match up which the Brazilian believes fervently that he will not lose.
"It has been a great training camp and the result can be nothing but victory to me."
ONE: "Valor of Champions" is set for the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 24th and the PPV can be purchased for $9.99 from here: http://www.onefc.com/livestream.html