UFC welterweight star Ben Askren isn’t known for being a heavy hitter, but he has as many KO/TKO finishes on his record as he does submissions, and that fact is well worth considering as we head into UFC Singapore this weekend.
After a brilliant start to life in the UFC Askren is a man fighting for his top-level career. The former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion defeated Robbie Lawler via submission on his debut, but was starched in just five seconds by Jorge Masvidal’s flying knee at UFC 239 in the summer.
Now Askren returns to face one of the best grapplers in the UFC, Brazil’s Demian Maia, in the main event of UFC Singapore, and the odds available on an Askren win via KO/TKO are way longer than they really should be.
Askren has a smothering wrestling game and excellent submissions, but he’s unlikely to have any joy with Maia on the mat if he’s looking for a tapout victory. But while engaging Maia in an all-out submission battle is a surefire path to defeat, Askren can certainly employ his wrestling and heavy top game to good effect and pin the Brazilian to the mat. From there, he can use his ground and pound, which won him back-to-back title fights in ONE in 2017 before he retired, only to return with the UFC.
Maia possesses a clear submission threat, but Askren’s wrestling should mean he controls the contest and, when he gets on top, a finish by ground and pound seems as likely as a ground-out five round decision, if not more so.
The 6/1 on an Askren KO/TKO is simply too big to ignore.
‘THE KING OF KUNG FU’ TO CLAIM ANOTHER VICTIM
When it comes to Russian striking specialist Muslim Salikhov, the numbers say it all.
17 fights, 15 wins, 12 knockouts. When he steps into the cage, there’s a better than average chance that it’s going to end with “The King of Kung Fu” finishing his man with strikes, and that should, in theory, make a Salikhov win via KO/TKO an odds-on chance this weekend against Laureano Staropoli.
Argentinian Laureano Staropoli has gone the distance in his last two fights, which suggests he’s tough, but Salikhov’s striking is unlike anything Staropoli will have faced so far in his career.
Back the Russian to score another big stoppage victory as he makes Staropoli unlucky number 13 on his list of knockout victims.
PAVLOVICH TO ADD ANOTHER KO TO HIS RECORD
Russian heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich was given a baptism of fire for his UFC debut as he was well beaten by Alistair Overeem. But Pavlovich bounced back with a first round finish over Brazilian Marcelo Golm on his next appearance and is now looking to claim back-to-back wins with victory this weekend over Maurice Greene.
Pavlovich is 4/11 to get the win, and 6/5 to get the job done via KO. But, if you’re of the view that he’s going to win by KO, you may as well take the bigger odds and bet him to win it in the first round.
Pavlovich has won 10 of his 13 victories by way of knockout, and each and every one of his KO wins has come in Round 1, and he’s a 9/5 shot to add to that stat this weekend.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 20, 2019
LOOKBOONMEE TO CLAIM DEBUT VICTORY
Former Muay Thai fighter Loma Lookboonmee arrives in the UFC looking to make an impact in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division, and the Thai looks a solid bet to pick up the win on her octagon debut.
Lookboonmee takes on Alexandra Albu, who is an athletic opponent, but one who also likes to stand and trade. For a fighter with more than 100 Muay Thai contests to her name, that should be music to Lookboonmee’s ears.
Women’s fights, particularly in the lighter weight classes, often go the distance, and in this matchup we could well see the judges come into play, with Lookboonmee’s superior striking holding sway in a decision victory for the Thai.