MMA: Santos' fight with Askren off, One Championship's CEO Victor Cui slams Brazilian

(From left) One Championship welterweight world champion Ben Askren, One Championship chief executive Victor Cui and Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Luis Santos.
(From left) One Championship welterweight world champion Ben Askren, One Championship chief executive Victor Cui and Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Luis Santos.PHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE - Friday night's One Championship mixed martial arts welterweight bout between American Ben Askren and Brazilian Luis Santos is off.

This, after the Brazilian failed to make the stipulated weight ahead of his title fight against the world champion.

While the American weighed in at 169.5 pounds - a shade under the 170-pound (77.1kg) limit - at Thursday night's weigh-in at Bugis+, his opponent ran afoul of the scales, coming in at 172 pounds.

One Championship chief executive Victor Cui has slammed Santos' unprofessional actions.

Cui told The Straits Times on Friday morning: "This is the most unprofessional thing a fighter could do. Sapo (Santos) has had months to prepare for this, he knows this is a world championship fight, the biggest of his career.

"And yet he has complete disregard for what it means to be a professional fighter competing at the highest levels of MMA. This is single-handedly the most unprofessional incident I've witnessed in the sport.

"He had two jobs - make weight and put on a good fight. He has completely failed in the first."

The South American jiu-jitsu specialist had until 1pm on Friday to make the new cut-off weight of 190 pounds or the fight at the Singapore Indoor Stadium would be called off. He failed despite being given the chance.

 

It was to have been the co-main event of the One Championship's Pride of Lions nine-bout card. The other headline fight which pits strawweight champion Thai Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke against Yago Bryan will no longer be a title fight after Bryan also failed to make his stipulated 115-pound limit.

The higher weight allowance was a concession made by Askren, a former Olympic wrestler, who is desperate to set the record straight against Santos, 35.

The duo's previous encounter in the Philippines in April ended in a no-contest after Askren, 31, had accidentally poked his opponent in the eye.

Cui admitted that fans would be disappointed since the much-anticipated rematch failed to materialise and did not rule out issuing partial refunds or discounts for the next One Championship event.

"We will try to arrange for another one next month if possible, depending on the fighters' schedules and commitments," he said earlier on Friday.

"But we still have a very exciting card for our fans tonight and I'm confident it'll be a fantastic night."

On possible sanctions against Santos, he noted: "We'll see. After what he's done, nobody in the world will want a fighter that does not make the weight he's supposed to."

In a tweet, Cui said: "I'm disgusted. Sapo fails to make weight then despite Askren offering a fight at 190lbs, Sapo still refuses. Completely unprofessional."