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ONE Championship 41 results: Ben Askren smothers Nikolay Aleksakhin in non-title contest

ONE Championship

One of these days, Ben Askren will get a chance to defend his ONE welterweight title. It just won't be anytime soon. Askren preserved his undefeated record with a smothering victory over Nikolay Aleksakhin on Friday night at ONE Championship 41, taking a unanimous decision over the Russian contender in a non-title affair after Aleksakhin failed to make weight, just as Luis Santos failed to make weight against Askren in late 2015.

Not surprisingly, Askren (15-0) dominated much of the fight on the floor, setting the pace in the opening round by wading into a body lock, throwing Aleksakhin into side control, then methodically going to work with elbows, punches, and knees to the head of his grounded opponent. Askren repeated the favor in round two, but faced the first real adversity of his ONE career once Aleksakhin started opening up with heavy strikes in the third.

Askren ate a number of good shots from the Russian, including a head kick which appeared to briefly shake him, however by then Aleksakhin was too worn down to capitalize and instead gave up an easy takedown. From there, the pattern of the fight was set, as Aleksakhin connected anytime the contest was standing but otherwise was left to drown under the top pressure of Askren as soon as the former Bellator champion grabbed ahold of a limb and dragged Aleksakhin to the canvas.

All three judges saw the fight for Askren, moving the 31-year-old wrestler to 3-0 (1 NC) inside the ONE cage.

In the night's co-main event, Filipino bantamweight Geje Eustaquio (8-4) derailed the momentum of Gianni Subba (7-2), employing a diverse striking attack to capture a unanimous decision and put himself in the hunt for the 135-pound title. Despite a background centered mainly in Wushu, Eustaquio showed off a well-rounded mixed martial arts game, avoiding trouble on the mat and surging ahead of Subba with an accumulation of body kicks and winging combinations.

"Honestly guys, I came with here with two injuries, both on my shoulders," Eustaquio revealed afterward. "Three weeks before (the fight), I had an injury on my left. Two weeks before the fight, I had this injury on my right. It's just that my priorities were better than my performance, and this way I feel victorious tonight."

Elsewhere on the night, American prospect Lowen Tynanes (9-0) pushed his ONE win streak to five straight, sweeping Koji Ando (12-5-2) on the scorecards to take a unanimous decision and inch closer to a title shot against ONE lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.

Tynanes dictated the fight from pillar to post. The 25-year-old teammate of UFC contender Max Holloway scored takedowns in every round, maintaining a steady diet of offensive pressure with short punches and elbows from top position. When standing, his weapon of choice was a chopping low kick that pulverized Ando's lead leg and kept the Japanese veteran from ever finding his rhythm.

An intriguing lightweight prospect with just one fight left on his ONE contract, Tynanes has already expressed an interest in joining teammates Holloway and Louis Smolka inside the UFC.

Another battle of rising prospects ended with Reece McLaren (9-3) handing Muin Gafurov (10-1) the first loss of the 19-year-old's young career.

McLaren controlled the action with his chain wrestling, taking down Gafurov several times in each round and deftly working towards the crucifix position to rain down hard elbows. Gafurov threatened with a guillotine in the second and found some success with his striking in the final round, but it was too little, too late. All three judges scored the fight for McLaren, giving the 24-year-old bantamweight his second win in as many appearances under the ONE banner.

In early action, former ONE featherweight champion Honorio Banario (9-6) shook off a five-fight losing streak to take a unanimous decision over his Filipino countryman Vaughn Donayre (8-5). Martin "The Situ-Asian" Nguyen (6-1) won a back-and-forth brawl against Li Kai Wen (5-3), stopping the Chinese featherweight with a first-round salvo of punches from Wen's back. Lastly, Joshua Pacio (7-0) stated his case for the next ONE men's strawweight title shot, finishing Rabin Catalan (4-2) under a flurry of second-round strikes from mount.

Complete ONE Championship 41 results can be found here.

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