FRIDAY’S NEWS DIGEST 8/18: Ben Askren set to return, Rizin Women’s Grand Prix Lineup, latest fight announcements

By Cole Henry, MMATorch contributor

Ben Askren set to return

Many people will agree that the UFC has the best fighters in the world. Many people will say that if you are a world champion in the UFC you are also the best fighter in the world in your weight class. One exception to that rule though may be Ben Askren. Not only is he not the UFC Welterweight Champion, but he isn’t under contract with the company at all, and it is by their own design.

Askren is a legendary collegiate wrestler, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, a former Bellator Welterweight Champion, and the current One Welterweight Champion; he is also undefeated in MMA with a perfect record of 16-0 with one no contest. Despite that, Dana White can’t seem to find a spot for him on the UFC roster.

Now I could go into a long rant about how no other sport would hold down an effective athlete just because he wasn’t entertaining, but that argument has already been made a thousand times. Askren’s dominant wrestling style is not always fun for casual fans to watch, but his mastery of the sport makes him a must see for hardcore fans. Hopefully we see him fight in the UFC before he calls it a career, because if not, he will always be one of those “what if” stories.

Despite the UFC’s lack of interest though, Askren has fought on, and he will be returning to the cage very soon. One Championship has announced that Askren will face Zebaztian Kadestam in the headlining bout of One Championship 60. Kadestam is a relative unknown but does have a KO victory over Luis Santos, another former opponent of Askren’s.  The card will take place on Sept. 2 in Shanghai, China.

Cole’s Analysis: Ben Askren not being on the UFC roster is frustrating because this is a sport where he should be given the chance to show that his method of fighting is the best. It’s a shame that egos came into play here because he is certainly one of the top welterweights in the world and he should be fighting the other top guys. Until then though we will have to be satisfied with him taking out largely over matched opponents. For what it’s worth, Kadestam looked great against Santos so we could have a good fight here.

Rizin Women’s Grand Prix lineup announced

Women’s Super Atom weight GP Opening Round

RENA vs Andy Nguyen

Miyuu Yamamoto vs Irene Rivera

Saori Ishioka / Kanna Asakura vs Sylwia Juskiewicz

Alyssa Garcia vs Maria Oliveira

Bantamweight GP Opening Round Bracket B

Shintaro Ishiwatari vs Akhmed Musakaev

Erson Yamamoto vs Manel Kape


Grappling Match

Kazushi Sakuraba vs Dan Henderson

Fight Announcements

Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal announced for UFC 217

Rico Verhoeven is set to face “Bigfoot” Silva in a kickboxing match at Glory 46

Cole’s Analysis: This is one of the strangest bookings I have ever seen. Silva has been knocked out a lot in MMA, and Verhoeven has been unstoppable in kickboxing. Just a strange fight here, but I’m sure I’ll still be watching.

Artem Lobov vs. Andre Fili announced for UFC Fight Night 118

Belal Muhammad vs. Jesse Taylor announced for UFC Fight Night 121

Augusto Mendes vs. Boston Salmon announced for UFC Fight Night 119

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: THURSDAY NEWS DIGEST 8/17: Hardy, Ortiz, Alvarez share their opinions on Mayweather vs. McGregor, Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw to fight at UFC 217, Cormier returns

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