ONE FC returns to the Philippines for a Friday card available to North American audiences at 7:30am ET, and you can bet many people will tune in before they head off to work. The reason? Perhaps the top fighter in the world outside of the UFC, Ben Askren, returns to action to defend his welterweight title. His foe this time will be Brazilian veteran Luis ‘Sapo’ Santos, who sports a seven-fight winning streak since leaving Bellator in 2012. Askren has run his record to 14-0 now, and the wrestler who was once maligned for a boring style that went to decision too often, has finished each of his opponents since the beginning of 2013. This fight should follow the same path as all recent Askren bouts, where Santos needs to land something early before the Olympian can close the distance and impose his dominant wrestling. Filipino submission artist Mark Striegl makes his ONE FC debut on this card after picking up 11 submissions in his 14 career bouts up to this point. He takes on Casey Suire, who has already notched a pair of submission victories in ONE FC, and is 5-0 overall in his career. Also on the card, former flyweight title challenger Geje Eustaquio looks to get back on the winning track against Thai fighter Anatpond Bunrad. This should be an interesting clash of styles, as Eustaquio is more well-rounded but at a disadvantage on the feet. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for ONE FC 26 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (Internet PPV, 7:30am ET) ONE FC Welterweight Title Ben Askren -445 Luis Santos +315 Mark Striegl -245 Casey Suire +175 Geje Eustaquio -160 Anatpond Bunrad +120 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Askren fights are easy to break down. His opponent has as much of a chance as their ability to land a fight-ending strike before Askren can close the distance. Luckily for Santos, that somewhat of a specialty of his. Unfortunately for Santos, he’s still fighting Ben Askren, and we have no reason to think that Askren has a chin that will get cracked with just one shot. This will be the typical ragdolling we’ve come to expect from Askren, although perhaps more the Koreshkov or Amoussou length than his first couple fights in ONE FC. The other two fights are far more difficult to call, as the only fighter to really take a big step up among them is Geje Eustaquio, and he didn’t have much for Adriano Moraes. I do favor Striegl’s grappling game pretty highly over Suire’s, and Eustaquio’s overall skills ahead of Bunrad’s striking, but I can’t see myself betting either. Striegl is the more confident pick, but I’d hope the price comes down a bit before I play it.
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