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Ben Askren: One FC champion Nobutatsu Suzuki ‘will be no match for my ground game’

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One FC

Ready to fight for the One FC welterweight championship, Ben Askren doesn’t think 170-pound champion Nobutatsu Suzuki is on his level.

Askren, a former Bellator welterweight kingpin, earned a shot at the gold with a first-round submission victory over Bakhtiyar Abbasov in his One FC debut in May. Askren meets Suzuki in the co-main event of One FC 19 at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, UAE, on Aug. 29, and he’s not impressed by Suzuki, who beat Phil Baroni and Brock Larson in his previous One FC bouts.

"I think Suzuki is dangerous, but he will be no match for my ground game," Askren told MMAFighting.com. "I think I finish the fight in the first round via submission or TKO."

Many fans criticized the level of competition Askren fought in his first bout under the One FC banner against Abbasov, who was 11-2 at the time. "Funky," who admitted he never heard of him before signing the contract, sees no reason for that.

"I think a lot of people aren't on my level," he said. "I would have liked to fight for the title immediately, but I had no problem fighting someone else. Whoever they want to match me with is fine with me."

The decorated wrestler will have the opportunity to win his second major title in five years of professional MMA career, and he didn’t actually expect to be at the top so fast when he first entered the sport in 2009.

"I wasn't sure what to expect when I made my debut, I was just ready to win fights," he said. "My career has taken an interesting path, but I'm very happy with it and excited for the future.

"At this point, my plan is to win the One FC world title and defend it for a long time."

"For a long time" sounds interesting after the welterweight hinted, days before his One FC debut in May, that he could retire at the end of his contract with the promotion.

"My two things I always said is, No. 1 I’d be retired by the time I had my first kid, and No. 2 I’d be retired by the time I was 30," he said in May. "I had my first kid [one-year old Alex] and I’m not done yet, and I’m turning 30 this year so, those two landmarks I kind of set for myself, I’m passing by.

"I still train at a very high level, I compete at a very high level. Obviously, like everyone it’s very hard to hang it up, but I’m definitely going to try and do it the right way, not like a lot of combat athletes have done and kind of hold on too long just for every last fleeting moment. I don’t want to be one of those people."

Askren will likely complete his two-year, six-fight contract by the end of 2015 or early 2016, but he didn’t confirm his plans to retire this time.

"We will see," he responded.