Perfect night for Singapore's MMA fighters
American welterweight world champion Askren also bows out in style with swift victory
At One Championship's Immortal Pursuit event last night, local mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Amir Khan strode to the ring accompanied by The Weeknd's hit song "Starboy".
The tune was apt, as he went on to cap a splendid night for Singapore's MMA exponents at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, by beating Australia's Adrian Pang via unanimous decision.
Amir's win meant that all three Singaporean fighters on the Immortal Pursuit fight card ended their bouts with the Republic's flag draped over their shoulders in victory.
Earlier in the night, two other local fighters, Tiffany Teo and former Olympian swimmer May Ooi also won their respective fights emphatically with first-round submissions.
Amir said that he did not feel burdened trying to preserve Singapore's perfect record in front of a packed home crowd of about 10,000 as he headed out for the co-main event.
"There was no pressure at all, because I don't plan for failure," he told The New Paper.
"It's always an honour to fight for Singapore, the energy I get here is surreal. It's fantastic."
The 23-year-old believes his win over 43-fight veteran Pang proves he is ready for a shot at One Championship's lightweight world title, held by Australian Martin Nguyen.
Said Amir: "I definitely moved up one level tonight. I always knew I had it. It was a matter of showing it.
"Martin has the belt, so I want to fight him next."
Amir's victory came after Tiffany Teo had submitted India's Puja Tomar with an armbar with 53 seconds left in the first round.
Teo, 27, will next compete for One Championship's vacant women's strawweight world title.
Later in the night, Ooi, 41, posted a similarly impressive submission win over Cambodia's Vy Srey Khouch after 3 min 58 sec in the first round of their catchweight (58 kg) bout.
WORLD TITLE SHOT
Like Amir and Teo, Ooi believes she is ready for a world title shot.
"I took out (Malaysian) Ann Osman, in the first round, clean," said Ooi, snapping her fingers as she referred to her impressive One Championship debut in August.
Ooi was competing in front of a home crowd for the first time in three years, having fought in the Philippines, Japan and Thailand after making her debut at the Suntec Convention Centre in 2014.
She admitted that there was a lot of pressure on her shoulder, but felt vindicated in her decision to gain more experience overseas.
Referencing her defeat by Ukrainian Anna Bezhenar in the World Series of Fighting Global Championship 2 event last year, she said: "She was really good and I lost on decision.
"Defeats like that showed me all the details I needed, so that when I step into One Championship, it's not a trial. I'd be ready."
In last night's other co-main event, American welterweight world champion Ben Askren retired undefeated with an 18-win record, after seeing off Japan's submission expert Shinya Aoki in just 57 seconds.
After thwarting Aoki's attempt at pulling off a triangle armbar, the 33-year-old Wisconsin native took the fight to the ground, where he simply overpowered his Evolve MMA teammate with a flurry of fists.
Said Askren: "That was a satisfying way to go out, man. I couldn't have scripted it any better."