UFC Singapore: Submissions rule as Maia hands one dimensional Askren another defeat

Askren was shi* - deserved to lose.


We won’t lie, we genuinely thought Ben Askren had enough in the tank to take 41-year-old Demian Maia to the mat and unload the sort of ground and pound that would have brought about a stoppage win. But Maia had other ideas, and after comprehensively out striking a very uncomfortable-looking Askren on the feet, he eventually got dragged him into deep water and submitted him.

Maia’s superb performance, shutting down Askren’s offensive wrestling and totally dominating him on the feet, belied his 41 years, but also showed that Askren, despite being an elite wrestler, was a little too one-dimensional to deal with the Brazilian, who himself has been accused of lacking any sort of striking threat whatsoever.

However, against Askren he looked like a million dollars as he easily took charge of things on the feet, and threatened at all times when the fight went to the mat. And once he took Askren’s back in the third round, it was game over as he locked up a rear-naked choke to secure the win.

It gave Maia the 28th win of his career, and his 14th career submission. It also sent Askren to his second successive defeat.

The former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion is now 1-2 in the UFC. The game seems to have evolved past his specialist skillset, and I can’t help wondering how well he would have done if he’d moved across five years ago. Right now, in 2019, he appears to have fallen into the level of a gatekeeper, at best.


In the co-main event, Stevie Ray edged a competitive lightweight scrap with Michael Johnson, but while Ray was ecstatic at his win, Johnson was left livid after the judges returned a majority decision verdict in favour of the Scot.

I scored the fight to Ray, giving him two rounds to Michael Johnson’s one, and even gave “Braveheart” a 10-8 in the final round as he battered the American to within an ace of a stoppage. Yet Johnson seemed utterly baffled when the decision came back giving Ray the majority decision win.

Ray edged a close opening round, only for Johnson to come storming back in the second. But Ray saved his best for last as he dominated Johnson after securing a mid-round takedown. It was a fun, back-and-forth fight that Ray hoped would earn them both a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus but, a little surprisingly, the UFC officials awarded that honour to the main eventers. 


Beneil Dariush is the complete antithesis to the trash-talking, bad blood-boiling confrontations we often see in the UFC. The super-respectful, God-fearing lightweight contender just sings his way to the cage, submits them, then heads home again. 

His latest display was one of his best yet, as he dominated crowd-pleasing brawler Frank “The Crank” Camacho with his striking, then took him to the mat, took his back and finished him with a rear-naked choke. Camacho had a well-deserved reputation as someone who drags fighters into all-out wars in the octagon, but he barely laid a glove on Dariush, who took him down and finished him like it was a nice easy training session at the gym.

That’s no knock on Camacho, who is one of the most entertaining fighters in the division. It’s praise for an unsung talent of the 155-pound division whose submission skills are good enough to finish just about any lightweight in the world.


Sometimes with these international shows, a future star emerges with a big performance to give a glimpse of what’s to come. In Singapore, that performance came from French heavyweight Ciryl Gane, who produced an eye-catching display of striking against dangerous newcomer Don’Tale Mayes before eventually finishing him with a heel hook submission.

It’s remarkable enough that Mayes survived this incredible striking onslaught in the opening round…

But somehow he did, and Gane continued to hammer the American throughout the second and third rounds until the very final seconds when, after sending his man to the canvas, Gane followed him to the mat and, instead of applying the usual ground and pound to finish the job, he leaned back , grabbed Mayes’ ankle and applied an excruciating heel hook to force the tap.

He’s going to be a lot of fun to follow as the heavyweight division looks for new contenders to emerge in 2020.


The other big performance of the night came from another of the big guns, as Russian heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich showcased first his patience, then his punch power as he battered American prospect Maurice Greene in just over two minutes on the preliminary card. 

Pavlovich lost his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem, but he bounced back in his next fight and, as we predicted, he delivered the goods again with another heavy-handed finish to keep up his remarkable record of securing all of his finishes in the very first round.

Just like Gane above, Pavlovich is definitely one to watch if you’re a fan of big, powerful heavyweights bludgeoning their way through the opposition.

Big UFC next weekend. See all the odds over at Paddypower.com

What do you think?