On Saturday night, the undefeated Ben Askren had his coming out party with the UFC, showing up on the broadcast multiple times and being interviewed all over Madison Square Garden. In a backstage interview with Megan Olivi he shared his thoughts on who he thought he’d end up facing first and boiled it down to ‘probably Robbie Lawler.’
But according to BJPenn.com’s Chris Taylor, the UFC has other ideas: they want Lawler to face Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson while Askren gets Darren Till.
This just in! Per multiple sources close to the situation, the UFC is targeting the following two welterweight bouts for early 2019:— Chris Taylor (@CTaylor_96) November 4, 2018
Stephen Thompson vs Robbie Lawler and Ben Askren vs Darren Till. Neither fight has been officially signed but that is the intention.
It’s no secret that the UFC has been interested in having Lawler and Thompson face off. That fight has been rumored to be in the works for the first UFC on ESPN card as far back as the start of July, with the state of both mens’ knees being a factor in keeping things from getting signed. Four months later and we’re sure the UFC has a better idea whether both men can face off.
As for Darren Till, it wouldn’t be a great match-up for him. He’s coming off a second round submission to welterweight champ Tyron Woodley in September that saw Woodley take him down and choke him out rather easily. Given Askren is Woodley’s wrestling coach, we doubt Till would have much better luck against him.
Who's first for @BenAskren? pic.twitter.com/ai66WIXExJ— UFC (@ufc) November 4, 2018
After spending the year building Till up as a star in his native Liverpool, it seems strange to throw him to the wolf that is Askren, but someone’s gonna end up across the undefeated ONE champion for his debut. Fortunately for Till, he recently declared his days at welterweight over, which may force the UFC to look elsewhere. Or maybe it just means Askren’s debut comes at 185 pounds, which would give Darren just enough of an advantage to make the pairing somewhat interesting.