UFC Singapore Report: Demian Maia submits Ben Askren

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/26/ufc-singapore-report-demian-maia-submits-ben-askren/

UFC Singapore Report: Demian Maia submits Ben Askren

By: Eric Marcotte

The UFC returned to the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, early on Saturday morning. The event was headlined by two of the most accomplished grapplers in the welterweight division, Demian Maia and Ben Askren. The first year of Askren’s UFC tenure had been somewhat of a roller coaster, with a thrilling comeback victory against Robbie Lawler in March, and a devastating knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal in July. For Maia, a skid of consecutive decision losses to the three top-ranked welterweights (Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, and Kamaru Usman), had effectively eliminated him from title contention. Maia had quietly rebounded this year with a pair of victories, but a victory over Ben Askren would undoubtedly be the biggest win of the year for the UFC veteran. Elsewhere on the card, Michael Johnson made his return to the lightweight division against Stevie Ray.

The card was called by John Gooden alongside Dan Hardy and Paul Felder. Performance bonuses were awarded to Ciryl Gane and Beneil Dariush. Fight of the Night honors went to Demian Maia and Ben Askren. The reported attendance for the event was 7,155.


*Raphael Pessoa def. Jeff Hughes by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Loma Lookboonmee def. Aleksandra Albu by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)

*Sergei Pavlovich def. Maurice Greene by TKO at 2:11 of Round 1

*Movsar Evloev def. Enrique Barzola by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

*Rafael Fiziev def. Alex White by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

*Randa Markos def. Ashley Yoder by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Muslim Salikhov def. Laureano Staropoli by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)

*Ciryl Gane def. Don’Tale Mayes by heel hook at 4:46 of Round 3

*Beneil Dariush def. Frank Camacho by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 1

*Stevie Ray def. Michael Johnson by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

*Demian Maia def. Ben Askren by rear-naked choke at 3:54 of Round 3


They spent a great deal of the first-round exchanging kicks to the leg. Pessoa would periodically rush forward and the fighters would throw some wild hooks and overhands for a brief period before re-setting. Pessoa landed a left hook that the commentators speculated may have led to a fracture, given the immediate and severe swelling. Hughes ate some big shots this round but showed off an impressive chin.

The most notable moment of the second round came Pessoa knocked Hughes down with a right hand, but Hughes recovered almost immediately and Pessoa was unable to capitalize. Hughes ended the round on top, throwing some heavy strikes at Pessoa, who was attempting to work his way back up the cage. I had Pessoa up 20-18 going into the final round.

Hughes coach motivated him between rounds by saying he did not like Pessoa’s face. Pessoa repeatedly looked as though he had Hughes in trouble, but would back off, presumably to avoid a clinch exchange. I had Pessoa winning this round and the fight.

WINNER: Raphael Pessoa by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Pessoa did not appear to have much trouble here and was certainly confident in the cage. This was Pessoa’s first win in the UFC, after a loss to Ciryl Gane earlier this year.


Lookboonmee started out strong in the Thai clinch landing a series of hard elbows. Albu continuously grabbed Lookboonmee’s shirt, to the extent it looked as though it was ripping. Referee Daniel Movahedi brought a halt to the action to issue a hard warning to Albu. Albu landed a head kick but ate another hard elbow in the resulting clinch exchange. Lookboonmee just looked a step ahead, specifically in the clinch exchanges in this round.

Lookboonmee ditched the shirt she was wearing over her sports bra, as Albu had effectively ripped it off. She controlled the first half of the round with her control of the distance, utilizing teeps and jabs. Albu landed a hard-right hand that forced Lookboonmee to shoot for a takedown, which Albu stuffed effectively. Albu landed a pair of clean hooks against the cage. Lookboonmee successfully tripped Albu but did not follow her to the ground.

The clinch continued to be the story of the fight, and Lookboonmee continued to hold an advantage when the fight went there. Lookboonmee tripped Albu once more, but at this point in the fight it was clear she was uninterested in going to the ground. Albu completed an impressive scissor sweep at the end of the fight, but there was not enough time left in the round to capitalize upon it.

WINNER: Loma Lookboonmee by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)

The scorecard in favor of Albu was insane. Lookboonmee was a step ahead for the vast majority of the fight and looked great in the clinch. Lookboonmee was very emotional in her post-fight interview when asked about what it meant to her, being the first UFC fighter from Thailand.


Pavlovich was throwing some bombs early, and Greene was trying to keep the distance with low kicks. Pavlovich hurt Greene badly with a jab and a pair of overhand rights and swarmed him with strikes against the cage. Greene went down to the ground from this flurry twice, and the second time, referee Herb Dean made the call that Greene was not defending himself intelligently, stopping the contest. Greene was infuriated with the stoppage.

WINNER: Sergei Pavlovich by TKO at 2:11 of Round 1

It is a bit difficult to describe Greene’s state at the end of the fight. He was conscious, but he went down multiple times during Pavlovich’s flurry, and it sort of appeared as though he was flailing about on the ground towards the end. I did not think this was a bad stoppage. This was Pavlovich’s first UFC win after a tough debut against Alistair Overeem last year.


There was no time wasted before these two started trading. Evloev’s strikes appeared to have a bit more behind them. Evloev took Barzola’s back and brought him against the cage. Barzola was briefly rocked by a slick 1-2 from Evloev. He controlled the rest of the round on the feet, and I thought this was a great opening round from Evloev.

Barzola landed some clean strikes early in the round after Evloev overextended on an entry. Somehow, Evloev took Barzola’s back in this exchange, but Barzola quickly shook him. Evloev was doing a fantastic job of changing levels, mixing up his striking and grappling. Barzola picked Evloev up and slammed him to the ground toward the end of the round. This round was very tough to score, but I narrowly gave it to Evloev.

Barzola kept on the gas tank in the third, knowing that he might need a finish to win the fight, and certainly needed the round. He was connecting more in this round then he was in the first, and his pace was extremely impressive in the third round after such n active fight. For his part, Evloev continued to work on multiple levels, and this third and final round was another close one. I scored the fight 29-28 Evloev.

WINNER: Movsar Evloev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

I thought this was a great fight. The grappling exchanges were slick, they were throwing heavy hands, and they kept it up at a crazy pace for 15 minutes. I am very high on Evloev, and I can see him developing into a legitimate contender. He is now 2-0 in the UFC.


This fight quickly became a slugfest. Fiziev connected with a flurry of brutal hooks that White. Fiziev continued his assault with roughly six connected clinch knees to the head of White. White recovered and began an attack of his own, which included a series of hooks and straights that momentarily paused Fiziev. Fiziev brought White into the clinch again and connected with another knee, opening a cut on the side of White’s head. Clear 10-9 for Fiziev.

Fiziev wasted no time before going right back on the attack. He connected with a right hand following a missed spin kick that appeared to hurt White. Fiziev caught a White kick and started attacking the body, backing him up. White shot for a number of takedowns throughout the round but Fiziev defended them all well. Another dominant round for Fiziev.

Fiziev took down White with a body lock early in the third. He opened up another cut on the opposite side of White’s face. Fiziev began marching forward with his hands down, looking to end the fight Holloway/Lamas style, but White attempted one last takedown which Fiziev defended.

WINNER: Rafael Fiziev by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

A very dominant performance from Fiziev. His takedown defense was on point and White had no answer to Fiziev’s striking. Fiziev is now 1-1 in the UFC, and I would say that this dominant win definitely increased his stock.


Yoder took Markos down and maintained top control for the majority of the round. In a brief scramble, Markos took Yoder back down by threatening an anaconda choke. Yoder escaped the position, returned to the feet, and Markos landed a hard-right hand to end the round.

Markos appeared to have the advantage on the feet, specifically with the hard-right hands she was landing. Yoder brought the fight back to her domain with a well-timed double leg takedown. She held the top position for a period of time, but much like the first round, Markos eventually reversed the position in a scramble and ended the round on top. I had the fight 19-19 heading into the final round.

The fighters were rather tentative for the first half of the round. Markos shot in for a takedown, but Yoder worked this to her advantage, reversing Markos’ momentum and eventually working her way on top. Markos worked her way back to the feet and connected with a pair of significant right hooks in the final seconds that may have edged a razor-tight round in her favor.

WINNER: Randa Markos by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was a very close fight, but I agreed with the decision. This win has notably continued Markos’s fifteen fight sequence of never following a win with a consecutive win or a loss with another loss. She is now 6-6-1 in the UFC.


This fight kicked off the main card.

The majority of the opening round was tense, if uneventful. Lots of missed spinning attacks from both fighters. The strikes that did land, belonged to Salikhov, including a sinning kick to the body, and I scored the opening round 10-9 for him.

Salikhov threw another spinning kick that Staropoli partially blocked, that rang out throughout the arena. Salikhov caught a kick from Staropoli and forced him to the ground momentarily. He repeated this action, landing some hard strikes as he brought Staropoli down. Salikhov connected with an uppercut that hurt Staropoli badly, forcing him to cover up. Salikhov let loose with a barrage of strikes, including some clean knees to the body, against the covering Staropoli, but he recovered and made it through to the final round.

Staropoli was more aggressive in the final round, doing good work on the feet early. They exchanged some hard shots to the body. The final round was the best for Staropoli, but he was down on the scorecards and was unable to find the finish in the third. I scored the fight 29-28 Salikhov,

WINNER: Muslim Salikhov by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-28)

It started off slow, but the fight definitely picked up. Salikhov was as tired as you’ll ever hear a fighter in their post-fight interview, which speaks to the power he was putting on each of his strikes. He is now on a three-fight win streak and is overall 3-1 in the UFC.


Gane’s movement was impressive early, specifically for a heavyweight. Gane threw a combination of hooks at Mayes, seemingly pausing him. Gane landed a trio of brutal kicks to the body that echoed throughout the arena. Mayes went on the attack but Gane countered with a right hook. Everything Gane connected with sounded incredibly hard. Gane let loose with a vicious barrage of strikes, including elbows, hooks and a flying knee which cumulatively sent Mayes to the ground. Gane was throwing down hammer fists as the round ended and there is no doubt that if the round lasted any longer, the fight would be over.

Early in the second Gane landed a kick to the Groin of Mayes that paused the action. Gane kicked the leg out from under Mayes with a front kick to the thigh. The round was all Gane’s on the feet, and then he took Mayes down with a minute remaining in the round. He easily passed into north-south position, then attempted to circle to the back which allowed Mayes to return to his feet. Gane dragged him down to the ground once more to end the round. 20-17 Gane heading into the final round on my scorecard.

Gane’s jab continued to control the range in the third round. It was amazing that Mayes survived the number of body strikes he did in this fight. Gane threw a knee-knee-elbow-elbow combination of strikes that all landed flush. Gane kept going to the body and eventually, Mayes doubled over in pain. Mayes saved himself momentarily, but Gane took Mayes down to the ground and casually attempted heel hook. Gane locked it in completely, and Mayes tapped out with seconds remaining in the fight.

WINNER: Ciryl Gane by heel hook at 4:46 of Round 3

Wow. Ciryl Gane has to be considered the hottest prospect in the heavyweight division right now. He has completely dominated every fight, has showcased tremendous power, movement, striking ability, and submission skills thus far in his career. If I was the UFC, I’d move him right up to a ranked opponent, because I have no doubts about him being ready for the next level of competition.


Beautiful superman punch by Dariush early in the first. Dariush took Camacho’s back and dragged him down to the ground. He quickly seized a rear-naked choke, forcing Camacho to submit.

WINNER: Beneil Dariush by rear-naked choke at 2:02 of Round 1

This was the perfect performance by Beneil Dariush, who is now on a three-fight winning streak following his drop from the top 15. While it is often difficult to put together fights in the talent stacked 155lbs division, he should return to ranked competition in his next fight.


This was Johnson’s first fight at 155lbs since his fight of the year candidate in 2017 against Justin Gaethje.

Johnson’s hand speed is always impressive, and he showcased it by working the jab. He stuffed a takedown from Ray. Ray’s kicks to the legs were adding up early, and his straight left found home a few times quickly. Neither fighter landed anything overly significant in the round, and their striking numbers were fairly even. Very difficult round to judge, and I would argue that this should be scored as a 10-10 round, but Johnson may have edged out the round with his boxing.

Johnson was more aggressive coming out of the gates in the second. Johnson was working the body in this round, and Ray was responding with counter rights and low kicks. Johnson’s jab and straights were starting to land with a bit more power, and it was showing on Ray’s face. Johnson stuffed another takedown attempt. Johnson landed a pair of clean 1-2’s. This was a good round for Michael Johnson.

After a good start to the round for Johnson, Stevie Ray finally succeeded in getting Johnson to the ground and began raining strikes down on Johnson who was shelled against the cage. As Johnson attempted to scramble to his feet, Ray took his back and locked in a body triangle. Ray put Johnson flat on his face and began throwing down strikes. Ray dominated the rest of the round and definitely won the final round.

WINNER: Stevie Ray by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

This all came down to how you scored the first round. I scored this fight a draw, although I doubt that will be a popular opinion considering the trepidation surrounding 10-10 rounds in the sport. Johnson was upset at the result, but this was a very close fight. Despite that, he looked better tonight than he ever did during his run at featherweight, and he should stick to the lightweight division. This was a big win for Ray after a tough loss to Leonardo Santos earlier this year, and he is now 7-4 in the UFC.

DEMIAN MAIA (27-9, 170.5) VS BEN ASKREN (19-1, 1 NC, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT

This marked the 41-year-old Maia’s 29th fight in the UFC.

Maia connected with a straight left. Askren landed a pair of low kicks and missed on a wild spinning back fist. They both landed some knees in exchanges in the clinch. Maia connected with a series of hooks that seemed to briefly hurt Askren. Decent kick to the body from Maia. Askren took Maia down with a body lock and Maia attempted to seize an arm. Askren got back up as Maia went after the leg. I scored the round for Maia, but it was close.

Good kick to the body by Askren to start the second. They exchanged uppercuts and Maia was cut on the cheek. Askren connected with another uppercut. There was a combination of strikes from Askren that Maia seemed to feel. Askren succeeded on a double leg takedown with a minute left and Maia immediately threatened the omoplata, climbing on top of Askren, throwing down some ground and pound strikes and attempting an armbar. Askren reversed the position and ended the round on top. Extremely high-level grappling from Maia, and this was another tough round to score.

A beautiful trip from Askren put him into side control. Maia got up almost effortlessly. Even at 41 years old, it is a treat to watch Maia grapple. Good knees to the body from Maia. Askren took Maia down once again, once more Maia easily worked his way on top, and attempted to take Askren’s back. He locked in a body triangle and started looking for the choke. He locked it in and Askren passed out before the referee recognized his single tap, ending the fight.

WINNER: Demian Maia by rear-naked choke at 3:54 of Round 3

Demian Maia is in a league of his own on the ground. Every time Askren took him down, it felt like Maia was in complete control, even from the bottom. This was one of the biggest wins of Maia’s career, putting to rest the debate of who the better grappler is between him and Askren. For Askren, this is an extremely tough loss, that will likely remove him from title contention. This was Maia’s 22nd win in the UFC, moving him just one win behind Donald Cerrone for the all-time record.

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Maia is a certified legend now, just as I’m thinking he’s a 1st ballot HOFer they bring it up on the post fight show. The butterfly hooks into the foot attacks to force top position were amazing.

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