Ben Askren — the centerpiece of a rare trade between mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions — waited years to prove that he was the best Welterweight fighter in the world, winning belts in Bellator MMA and ONE Championship before Dana White and Co. decided it was time to put his undefeated professional record to the test inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon. Of course, UFC was not going to make it easy, booking Askren against former 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler, a dangerous knockout artist who was returning from knee surgery and a year-long layoff.
Lawler and Askren collided on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 235, which took place tonight (Sat., March 2, 2019) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. And there was no secret what each fighter wanted to do: Askren wanted to grind “Ruthless” through the canvas, while Lawler was out to send that “Funky” chin into the front row.
Unfortunately for both fighters and the fans, it didn’t go as planned, with Askren surviving a ferocious early blitz en route to a controversial first round submission win, which wasn’t really a submission win.
Askren immediately dove for a takedown — a double-leg takedown into and arm drag. Lawler wasn’t having any of it, though, tossing Askren on his head and drilling him with repeated punches until “Funky” had to roll to his back. It looked like it was over — Lawler was killing him. But, Askren was somehow able to weather the storm and get back to his feet, his face covered in blood. Lawler drilled him with hard knees to the body as Askren looked to close the distance. Askren pinned Lawler up against the fence and angled for another takedown, but Lawler defended well for a few minutes until Askren got him into a bulldog choke from the side. Lawler’s arm went limp as Askren tightened the choke, but it was such a terrible angle that it was hard for referee Herb Dean to see what was going on. Dean decided to stop the fight, thinking Lawler was unconscious, but he was totally fine. Lawler got back to his feet immediately and said something to Dean, who realized that he had made a big mistake.
Askren didn’t seem to care either way about the stoppage. He was just pleased to survive that early onslaught and escape the Octagon with a big — albeit controversial — victory.
For complete UFC 235: “Jones vs. Smith” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.