• Brandon Vera

Brandon Vera (Photo : Hanz Lustre)

After the instant classic that was the middleweight title clash between Igor Svirid and Vitaly Bigdash in Kuala Lumpur just last weekend, fans of mixed martial arts in Southeast Asia have reason to rejoice as two more title fights (with rumors of one more) are lined up to close the year for ONE Championship.

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The much-awaited rematch, or "do-over", between ONE Welterweight World Champion, Ben "Funky" Askren and perhaps his toughest challenge to date in the form of 70-fight veteran Luis "Sapo" Santos of Brazil, takes place in Singapore on November 13.

After that, Filipino-American MMA superstar Brandon "The Truth" Vera will once again be "coming home" for a highly-anticipated ONE Heavyweight World Championship bout against former UK basketball star, Chi Lewis-Parry, who has been dogging Vera for the greater part of the past year.

Unfinished Business

Their last fight was memorable, and for the wrong reasons, specially for Askren who up to that point had never met anyone who could even put up a decent challenge. Santos however, an MMA vet with over 70 professional fights on his official record, manhandled Askren for the majority of the first fight earlier this year.

An inadvertent eye poke was all that stopped Santos from scoring one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Askren is of course recognized the world over as one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, and probably the best welterweight in active competition.

"What happened in Manila was the first time in my whole career that I didn't go in the cage and beat the tar out of my opponent and get my hand raised. When I was in Manila in April, I planned on fighting 'til one of us couldn't fight anymore. That's what I plan to do on November 13," said Askren, in a video interview.

The elite welterweight claimed the ONE Welterweight World Championship with ease when he delivered a thorough beatdown to former champ Nobutatsu Suzuki in Dubai last year. Of all the fighters in ONE Championship's growing roster, Askren is arguably the highest profile athlete in its ranks.

"[ONE Championship] is huge, really big. They're number one in Asia and on every TV station. When I'm over in Singapore, people stop me on the street and say, 'hey you're Ben Askren!' It feels really weird because I'm over in a foreign land where I don't feel like anyone should know me but they have such a huge distribution. Their goal is to sign the best fighters in the world, and when they signed me they got a top ten guy everybody was talking about," Askren added.

Santos' absolute domination of Askren leaves a lot on the table, and can only be resolved by another go at it inside the ONE Cage.


To close the show for ONE Championship in December is a heavily hyped battle between Filipino-American Brandon Vera and a man who has been hounding the pinoy star for a year, Chi "Chopper" Parry.

Vera, another of ONE Championship's high profile acquisitions, is an American with deep Filipino roots. Vera is always in the Philippines at various times and makes it a point to connect with his huge following there.

"Coming to fight in the Philippines for the first time last year was a dream come true for me. The home crowd was amazing and I love nothing more than to do battle in front of my kabayans (brothers)," said Vera.

"December 11 is a special and historic date for me. Not only will I be back home fighting in the biggest stadium in the Philippines, but I will also be fighting for the belt that I've been focused on for so long."

Vera and Parry will compete for the right to be crowned the inaugural ONE Heavyweight World Champion, becoming the top dog in the promotion's maximum weight class.

"Thank you Victor Cui, thank you ONE Championship and thank you most of all, my fans in the Philippines and around the world. You guys will not be disappointed," said Vera.

Vera's opponent Parry however, has other plans.

The former english professional basketball player is six feet and seven inches tall, and over 200 pounds of pure muscle. He has been clamoring for a fight with Vera since the latter signed on with the promotion last year.

Obviously confident in his ability to handle Vera's world-class Muay Thai, Parry is hard at work for the opportunity of a lifetime come December.

"I'm going to usher in a new era for the heavyweight division in ONE Championship. I have full respect for what my opponent has done for the sport of MMA, but let's face it, his time is past. When I knock him out on December 11 to take the belt, you'll see what I mean," said Parry.

Quite the physical specimen, Parry is ready as he'll ever be to pull the rug out from underneath Vera and claim the heavyweight throne for himself.